Monday, September 28, 2009

Pianist Helio Alves is making his mark

Here's a name to remember: Helio Alves.
I've come across his name on two recent releases, and noted his skillful playing on both. Alves, a pianist, hails from Brazil but has been making a career in the U.S. since attending Berklee in 1984. While he's turning up now as an in-demand sideman on jazz dates, he's also able to play it straight -- he was the pianist on Yo-Yo Ma's Garmmy Award-winning "Obrigato Brazil" album in 2003.
Alves gives bassist Gabriel Espinosa's "From Yucatan to Rio" CD lively keyboards to work with. The release is a nice collection of light Brazilian sounds, some with a neo-Sergio Mendes flavor.
Alves also backs up the great Louis Hayes on Hayes' new "The Time Keeper." His playing varies nicely on the releases, which includes some nice straight-ahead boppers and sweet ballads (the release also features compositions by saxophonist Abraham Burton, who is also worth keeping an eye on).

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