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Modern Drummer Magazine - Brazil
7 Lives CD Review
By Vlad Rocha
"The Brazilian (from São Paulo state) drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, who nowadays lives in NYC and plays with the Japanese pianist Hiromi has released his new record “7 Lives”. The CD shows us the very tasteful playing and all the musicality from this great drummer, who has all the requirements to grow even more in the jazz and fusion scenes worldwide, always maintaining the Brazilian touch on his approach to playing.
Mauricio has many guests on the CD, such as Itaiguara Brandão (bass), Oriente Lopez (piano and flutes), Gustavo Assis Brasil (guitars), Rodrigo Ursaia (tenor sax), Dom Salvador (piano), Cidinho Teixeira (piano), Brandi Disterheft (bass), Milene Corso (voice) and Esperanza Spalding (bass).
The music on the CD goes from strong jazz influences to Brazilian grooves and vibe, and it is performed with great sensibility. Mauricio has extreme fluency and looseness, plays hard-swinging grooves and executes beautiful (and at times very complex) phrases. The album begins with “Pinocchio”, written by Wayne Shorter. Mauricio composed an arrangement very much influenced by Brazilian music – but the American jazz is strongly present on the song as well, such as during the guitar solo. And all of a sudden we are back on the samba, and we stay there for the sax solo.
Next comes the title track, “7 Lives”, composed by Mauricio. It’s a maracatu (a traditional Brazilian Groove/musical style that hails from the state of Pernambuco) counted in 7/8, on which all the musicians perform fluently and with a lot of competence. The third track is called “30”, and it is also composed by Mauricio. The tune has parts in 5/4 and flirts with the American Jazz, while keeping a strong Brazilian influence happening throughout. “Long Gone”, which has the music-sensation Esperanza Spalding playing the acoustic bass, is a very calm and harmonious song. Mauricio does a great job with the brushes.
The album continues with “Two Way Street part 1” – a completely improvised duo of drums and guitar, and next we hear “Magali” (by Cidinho Teixeira), a song that brings back the Brazilian flavor by alternating between northeastern Brazilian grooves and samba. The song has a beautiful melody played by the flute, and at the end the drummer executes many solo phrases while catching the band phrases too. “Spirit”, by Oriente Lopez, also has Mauricio playing brushes for the intro, but he quickly switches to sticks during the song’s theme. Note also the beautiful piano introduction played by Oriente. The next song is called “No Standing Zone”, and it is another composition by Mauricio. It starts in 7 and it has a pulsating groove. Later on, the song falls into a section in 9, where the drummer does a solo with many notes, but very musical and inspired.
The remaining tunes are, “Two Way Street part 2”(with only guitar and drums); and “De Lá Pra Cá – From Here to There” from Brazilian pianist and legend Dom Salvador, who also plays on the track. This song is Brazilian jazz at its best. The album closes with “Waiting for Spring”(also written by Mauricio), which has a very calm atmosphere and features vocals by Milene Corso. To sum it up, this is an excellent example of how a record from a great musician should be done; on which the creativity, good taste and musicality are all highly valued. Ah, and for whoever wants it, there is also the technical aspect – always used for the benefit of the music”.
by Brad Walseth
We've been hearing quite a bit from this talented Brazilian-born, NYC-based drummer lately. A member of Hiromi's Sonicbloom band and frequent drummer for Eliane Elias and Marc Johnson, he has also done stellar work on recently reviewed excellent albums from Jon Gold ("Brazil Confidential") and Satya ("Seven Blue Seas").
7 Lives is Zottarelli's debut as a leader, and as is to be expected- there is plenty of excellent drumming here, but this is also a collection of interesting originals and a choice cover of Wayne Shorter's "Pinocchio" (which starts things off with a bang), played by a top notch crew of musicians. Assisting Zottarelli are guitarist Gustavo Assis-Brasil, electric bassist Itaiguara Brandao, Grammy-Award-winning pianist/flautist Oriente Lopez and tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Ursaia - all great players - and they are augmented by special guests including veteran pianists Cidinho Teixeira and septuagenerian Dom Salvador, and young wunderkind Esperanza Spalding on acoustic bass. With this outstanding cast, it would be hard to go wrong, and Zottarelli places his musicians in situations where they can shine with nice ensemble work and solos.
The band also covers originals by Cidinho and Dom Salvador, and the listener is struck by the vibrancy, joy and energetic enthusiasm generated by this group. Centering it all is Zottarelli's melodic and rhythmic drumming which is propulsive, without being excessive, and which drives the song, while also enhancing it. Some tunes, like the delightful "No Standing Zone" veer toward fusion, while 'Two Way Street - Part One" is an duo improvisation with guitarist Assis-Brasil, but Brazilian-flavored jazz comes through on tracks like the strong title track (showcasing Lopez' flute) and "30." Tasty and satisfying work from a rising star drummer on the Brazilian scene.
Jazz Inside NY Magazine
By Matt Marshall
"On his debut release as a leader, Brazilian drummer Mauricio Zottarelli melds a convincing fusion of his homeland’s traditional music, traditional jazz and modern, electric music. Opening with a groove-heavy cover of Wayne Shorter’s “Pinocchio,” which features a nice, wavy guitar solo from Gustavo Assis-Brasil, Zottarelli proceeds to feature six of his own compositions along with a piece from each of the record’s three pianists. The busiest of these is Oriente Lopez who also doubles on flute, lending a lyrical, South-American breath to much of the album’s music. Elsewhere, funk and electric strings reign alongside Zottarelli’s banging.
Things become most harried on the excellent free improvisation, “Two-Way Street Part 1,” which opens and closes with the sound of sirens, horns and the rushing of cars. In between is a three-minute road-rage exchange between Zottarelli and Assis-Brasil. Triumphant, exotic, pounding, electric, yet deeply grounded in the stream of tradition, 7 Lives offers an exhilarating trip across an ever-shrinking, colliding and adapting musical globe.
“There are numerous drummers you don’t know. Every once in a while it is nice to come across one of these drummers. Such is the case with the Brazilian drummer Mauricio Zottarelli. Based in New York, Zottarelli released his debut album “7 Lives”. It includes musicians such as Esperanza Spalding, Rodrigo Ursaia, Dom Salvador, Oriente Lopez, and Itaiguara Brandão. Seven songs were written by Mauricio Zottarelli himself. And once again a drummer proves to be quite musical. Zottarelli’s drumming is not just running through different rhythms, rather they serve the song. He accompanies the songs with great feeling. A convincing debut album from a drummer you certainly should know.”
Jazz n’ Drummer Blog, JAPAN, 2009
Among the wonderful musicians in this project, Zottarelli is an excellent leader—his drumming is very sensitive and at the same time very dynamic. Plus his solos show incredible speed and technique. (…) I am deeply satisfied with the music and the musicians in this album. The tunes are great and the playing is wonderful. I give it 5 stars.”
Jazz N’ More Magazine – Switzerland
By S. Gerosa
Mauricio Zottarelli, a young Brazilian drummer of Italian roots based in New York, is known only to insiders over here. Even though he ranks among the hippest of his instrument in the United States. He is the drummer, for example, of Hiromi, Eliane Elias and Rosa Passos. Finally, this dedicated and busy musician has recorded his first album and it is a hit. Not only because first-rate musicians such as Oriente Lopez, Esperanza Spalding or Dom Salvador are participating. Notably the 71-year Salvador, a living legend of Brazilian music, guarantees a high level of authenticity. Such is the case with “De lá pra cá”, an amazing and joyous musical firework. Zottarelli, who wrote seven out of the eleven songs is not only a gifted composer but also a great producer. A drummer whose playing is incredibly musical and at the same time propulsive, whose kicks and breaks are always directly related to the purpose of the song. If you have seen Zottarelli live, you will understand what I mean by that, and the joy of playing that this drummer emanates.
By H. SUGITA - SWING JOURNAL – JAPAN – AUG 2009
"The first leading album by new and powerful musician who joined Hiromi's Sonicbloom"
He was born in Brazil, studied at Berklee College of Music, and is living in NY for 10 years. Zottarelli has been working with Hiromi Uehara from the beginning of the year. He has many different rhythmic skills (...) and also the dynamic sense of rhythm which you see in Latin music. Including the compositional skills, this album is high quality brazilian jazz.