Dom Salvador Trio’s “Samborium” 

Dom Salvador is a genuine pioneer. Salvador, alongside bassist Sergio Barroso and drummer Edison Machado, supplied the necessary spark birth samba jazz during the 1960’s. It is a sound emanating from Rio de Janeiro that would, in its own way, change music forever. He isn’t done pioneering, however. Salvador, at eighty-four years old, still performs and records new music. His latest release Samborium finds him once again working in the trio format with drummer Graciliano Zambonin and bass player Gili Lopes. The latter is a Brazilian bassist based out of New York City and deeply involved in the Big Apple’s jazz scene while the former also plays in the NYC jazz scene and teaches as well.


Salvador’s ongoing command over the piano is clear from the first. “Upper Manhattan Medical Group” surges forward with melodic imagination and the years melt away. It’s joyous hearing his fleet-fingered work on the keys and the responsiveness of his bandmates accentuates every note. Zambonin’s timing and feel for groove is impeccable. “Samba de Esquina” opens with an extended Salvador piano introduction. Lopes and Zambonin soon fall in behind him and the latter, once again, elevates the performance with his propulsive percussion. It’s the album’s longest track, but sparkles with such effervescent musicality you won’t notice the time.

“Monk’s Mood” underlines what the first two songs make clear. Salvador and his bandmates share a special chemistry clear on each track that further enlivens already sound compositions. This freewheeling quasi-tribute to jazz giant Thelonious Monk hinges again on the pairing of Salvador’s piano and Zambonin’s drumming. His mix of brushes and straight-ahead drumming doesn’t miss a single beat and counterpoints Salvador’s physicality on the piano quite well. “Dedication” is a particular highlight. The track’s evolving yet always consistent melody rates as one of the collection’s finest moments and Salvador plays it with veteran skill. It is impossible for any music lover to not find themselves carried away by the composition’s effortless lift.

“Pannonica” gives Zambonin an opportunity to lead off a track. His brief introduction presages another superb Salvador performance and Lopes shines once again as well. The spotlight turns on him during select passages of the performance and his fluid bass playing dazzles. “Samborio”, the album’s penultimate tune, has a much livelier gait than many other selections from Samborium. Their precision and feel, however, remain untouchable. Salvador’s rhythm section provides the foundation and it’s wonderful to hear how it prods him to deliver one of the album’s best performances.

This is a jazz masterclass, samba inspired or otherwise. Time hasn’t touched Salvador’s powers one iota and anyone with ears will appreciate how well he continues to play. It is beyond dispute. His capacity for melodic invention is endless and his instincts for finding the right musicians for collaboration are as sharp as ever. Dom Salvador’s Samborium retains all of the wonderment and joy of his earlier works but, like a great painter, his colors are deeper than ever before and even the smallest brushstroke has meaning. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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