Review: Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto “Heloisando”

Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto “Heloisando”

12 May, 2011 Bryan Rodgers

The proud tradition of innovative Brazilian jazz is alive and well as evidenced by Heloisando, the debut album from Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto.  This isn’t the hip-shaking, overtly sexualized dance music of Brazil, but rather a thoughtful, inclusive jazz style that nods to several different forms within a colorful equatorial framework.  Headed up by Dutch musicians Jan Dumee (guitar/vocals) and Wim Dijkgraaf (harmonica), the five-piece group featured here draws inspiration and influence from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds.  Along with the Netherlands-born namesake duo, the band includes Brazilian jazz heavyweights Marcio Bahia (drums), Paulo Russo (double bass), and Kiko Continentino (piano).  Their collective pedigree is remarkable, and their talents are deftly showcased throughout the album.  Dumee and Dijkgraaf bring a European jazz flavor to the rhythm section’s sensual South American rhythms, and the result is a dreamy, peaceful collection of songs that foster relaxation while allowing the mind to wander along with the band’s melodies.
Surprisingly, there are no traditional Brazilian songs or covers to be found on Heloisando.  Each track was written by Dumee, making for a unique experience.  The band’s sound is inherently unique due to Dijkgraaf’s expert harmonica work.  The instrument boasts few true virtuosos and a reputation for more blues-based inclusion.  In the process of imparting his personality into his playing, Dijkgraaf shows just how engaging, emotional, and diverse the harmonica can be.  He’s allowed to run rampant over Dumee’s compositions, sometimes matching Dumee’s vocals with equally sensitive tones as on the opener “Heloisa,” and other times creating breathless, note mongering solos as heard in “Entre Rio e Belo Horizonte.”  Dumee’s guitar playing resides in a similar realm, and the two complement each other beautifully.  Though the music is primarily instrumental, there’s no shortage of feeling.  The first time Continentino is turned loose for a piano solo, the listener is held captive by his ideas.  With Dumee succinctly strumming in the background and Bahia providing a cloyingly complex rhythm, the track takes on a resounding vibe of tranquility.  Dumee’s plaintive yet pleading vocal weaves around the music like a gentle breeze, but it’s not all calmness and serenity.  The end of the song finds the band playing around with each other to create a neat improvised coda.

Every track includes memorable musical moments from each band member, but some stand out as touchstones.  Dumee’s exceptional acoustic guitar flair on “Entre Rio e Belo Horizonte” gives the song some streetwise grit.  Dijkgraaf’s lightly effected harmonica strains on “Sonhando de Amor” evoke the mystical sound of the flute.  “Sonhando de Amor” also displays the band’s ability to blend styles.  The drums and bass craft a timeless-sounding jazz beat while Dumee glides above with slippery acoustic guitar lines.  Each solo seems more lyrical than the next, and the sheer amount of musicality in action is astonishing.  The lighthearted “Rodinha” provides Dijkgraaf with a swaying backdrop that brings bossa nova to mind, and he makes the most of it with typically inventive playing.

Even without the one-of-a-kind sound that the harmonica affords, this album would be a success.  When Dijkgraaf drops out, the remaining foursome creates plenty of heat on their own.  Dumee surfs upon the sultry swing with clean, clear tones while the unflappable Russo urges him along on bass.  “Cipriano” is a folky tour-de-force, the beginning of which consists of Dumee and Dijkgraaf riffing on a slightly Mediterranean melody.  Dumee’s wordless vocals invoke a spiritual side, and the rest of the band enters with unmatched grace.  The nine tracks that comprise Heloisando are nearly unmatched in combining entertaining instrumental work and carefree atmospheres.  There’s no doubt that all of the musicians on the album have the ability to set listener’s brains ablaze with rapid-fire playing, but their restraint proves endlessly fruitful.

Review by Bryan Rodgers
Rating:  4 stars (out of 5)