Airto & Flora – A Celebration: 60 Years – Sounds, Dreams & Other Stories

There’s an embarrassment of riches to be found on Airto & Flora – A Celebration: 60 Years – Sounds, Dreams & Other Stories, the latest compilation from London’s always dazzling BBE label, this time documenting the work of Brazilian jazz power couple Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. Compiling thirty tracks across just about as many years (1964 through 1996) from the various solo and collaborating outings of the duo (now in their sixty-first year as union), the set examines their evolving alchemy of samba, bossa nova, jazz-fusion, and outré-funk excursions. On steady rotation here at AD are some of the earthier, more séance-like outings from Moreira’s 70s output, separated by six sides on the collection, but carrying a through line of imaginative and organic jazz dreamscapes.

“Andei,” from Moreira’s 1970 debut, Natural Feelings, finds his humid percussion—swathed in the fever dream atmosphere of Sivuca’s guitar, Hermeto Pascoal’s harpsichord, and Ron Carter’s bass—pierced with the airy, floating vocals of Purim, mesmeric in its repetition and hallucinatory in the song’s kaleidoscopic whole. Culled from his 1974 album, Virgin Land, “Musikana” is a seven-minute stretch-out of atmospheric free-jazz, with Flora and Airto both vocalizing wordlessly across a sweltering canvas of David Amaro’s relentlessly searching guitar, Moreira’s frenetic percussion, and tropical ambience. Like disembodied spirits, the players hover over and dash past one another, a mystical vapor left in their wake.

Bonus: Look, folks, this whole set is worth your time. But we’d be, frankly, just wrong to not also call out the spellbinding “Flora’s Song,” from Moreira’s 1972 album, Free. Composed by Purim, the track, while absent her vocal presence, more than makes up for it with the dizzying piano of Keith Jarrett, which finds liftoff in the company of Hubert Laws’ flute, after which it’s off to the races in the sky of dreams. | c depasquale

For heads, by headsAquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support via our Patreon page.