DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2018
On her second album, and her first self-produced effort, Abelita Mateus shows off an impressive ability to synthesize the sounds of her Brazilian home with jazz, the music that inspired her move to the States. Born in São Paulo, Mateus studied classical piano in her teens, but it was the sound of jazz, and the opportunities it offered for improvisation, that truly inspired her.
In Brazil, she played professionally with first-tier musicians, including Hermeto Pascoal. After moving to New York and studying jazz at William Paterson University, she met Grammy-winning guitarist Romero Lubambo, who produced her debut, 2017’s Vivenda; he sits in again on Mixed Feelings. On “Vamo N’Eça”, he adds acoustic embellishments, engaging in a playful call-and-response with Mateus piano during the tune’s coda, and complements her quiet vocal and minimal Rhodes on songwriter Djavan’s “A Ilha.”
The title track opens with drummer Alex Kautz supplying a subtle samba rhythm to support the harmonic variations Mateus lays down with the help of Peter Slavov’s bass. The remaining tracks delve into the pianist’s love of jazz, generously granting her bandmates ample opportunity to show off impressive chops. On “Paizinho (Little Daddy),” Mateus dances around the melody, trading phrases with Matt Marantz’s tenor. “Patience” lives up to its title with a laid-back tempo, highlighted by Slavov’s bass solo and the ticking of Kautz’s snare. “Ligia”lets Mateus explore her improvisational skills, closing the album on a bossa nova pulse that is more implied that stated outright. Currently, Mateus splits time between the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience and her own Chameleon Music trio, each situation allowing her to exhibit the range of her vocal and improvisational skills.
Mixed Feelings: Vamo N’Eça. A ilha, Valquíria, Paizinho (Little Daddy), Bonita, Patience, Lígia.
Personnel: Abelita Mateus, piano, Rhodes, vocals; Romero Lubambo, guitar; Peter Slavov, bass; Alex Kautz, drums; Matt Marantz, tenor saxophone; Phillip Gillette, drums and percussion.
"Abelita Mateus has so many of the qualities that are important for any successful musician. Her piano artistry is remarkable, and she is a talented composer and vocalist. Abelita's intelligence and heart are also expressed through her music.
She is part of the next generation of great Brazilian musicians. With all this talent, Abelita is someone to really keep your eyes on"
"Abelita Mateus is a young Brazilian musician who did the right thing: she came to the United States to attend music school, graduated, then decided to make the US her new home; her career is already blooming, and she is a talent that all of us should keep an eye on. Congratulations Abelita!"
"Abelita Mateus has, in abundance, those indispensables of the musicians’ craft:
sensitivity, creativity, and a prodigious technique. Most of all, she sparkles with refreshment - and for a jazz musician to sound refreshing in 2017 is no ordinary thing!"
"Playing with Abelita is a bliss. We had a great time bringing into life her beautiful composition "Saudades do Brasil," as well as re-interpreting Gilberto Gil's famous "Amor até O Fim." Abelita's musicality is both delicate and thundering, and I consider "Vivenda" an album to be not only special but also important for this new generation of Brazilian Jazz"