Amaro Freitas: Y’Y review | Ammar Kalia’s global album of the month

(Psychic Hotline)
The Brazilian jazz experimentalist draws on the atmosphere of the rainforest and its mythical beings to create his most explosive, explorative LP yet

Brazilian pianist Amaro Freitas approaches the 88 keys of his piano as if they were drums. Across three albums since his 2016 debut Sangue Negro, Freitas has honed a style of muscular, complex rhythm within jazz improvisation. Often playing different metres in each hand, he encompasses everything from folk maracatu polyrhythms on 2018’s Afrocatu to staccato, mechanical repetitions on 2021’s Sankofa.

His latest album, Y’Y, puts this rhythmic playfulness in service to a spiritual theme. Dedicated to the preservation of the Amazon, the nine tracks of Y’Y (meaning “water” or “river” in Sateré Mawé dialect) use whistles, prepared piano and percussion to evoke the sounds of the rainforest and its mythical beings. Opener Mapinguari (Encantado da Mata) sees Freitas playing twinkling phrases over shakers and cymbal washes, reflecting the rustling of leaves; dedicated to the “water mother” spirit, Uiara (Encantada da Água) – Vida e Cura develops a cascading rhythm over dampened piano strings to create the effect of water rushing.

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