Felipe Salles, assistant professor of jazz and African-American music studies, is earning critical praise for his recently released CD “Departure.”
Jazz Music (July 27) said the Brazilian saxophonist’s recording “is a significant, emotional work that synthesizes elements of Brazil’s cultural African/European/Brazilian music styles with contemporary Brazilian/Latin music and Jazz.”
“Salles’ tenor is muscular, agile, and attractive, and he plays reeds with searing fluidity. As a composer, his work reflects the ‘reader and thinker’; as an improviser his daring and futuristic mode of attack bristles with his commitment to excellence,” add the review. “For Salles, ‘Departure’ is a career milestone studded with a series of musical climaxes; each tightening the focus of a serious musician on his art, and the brilliant, shining stars that light and guide his way.”
Saxophone Journal said Salles “has truly blended the best of several worlds in his music, and this CD not only demonstrates the beauty and success in which he does this in his music, but also the considerable conviction in which the musicians performs it.”
Writing in the July/August issue of Cadence Magazine, Don Lerner said, “The richness and variety of Salles’s writing, nine outstanding original compositions in which jazz, Latin/Brazilian and classical musical influences may be heard, is the co-leading story here. The other prominent story-line is the top-tier quality of the performances from all participants.”
The June issue of ITG Journal, reviewer Malachy Rodriguez said Salles makes the recording unique “by combining his Brazilian musical heritage with classical and jazz compositional techniques.”
On the Capri/Tapestry label, “Departure” also features randy Brecker on trumpet, Nando Michelin on piano, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, Bertram Lehmann on drums and percussion, and Laura Arpiainen on violin.
Salles joined the faculty in 2010. An active saxophonist, composer and arranger in the U.S. since 1995, he has worked and recorded with many prominent jazz artists, including David Liebman, George Russell, Gunther Schuller, Sam Rivers, Herb Pomeroy, Jerry Bergonzi, Jovino Santos Neto, Oscar Stagnaro, Duduka Da Fonseca, Maucha Adnet, Tony Lujan, Luciana Souza and Bob Moses.
Before coming to the U.S., Salles performed with numerous Brazilian artists such as Daniela Mercury, Paulo Moura and Wagner Tiso. He has toured extensively in Europe, North and South America, India and Australia, both as a sideman and as a leader of his own group.
Salles was a 2009-10 winner of the French American Jazz Exchange Grant from the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) and Chamber Music America, and a 2005-06 winner of the Chamber Music America New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant Program, both grants sponsored by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He was awarded first place in the 2001 Concurso SGAE de Jazz “Tete Montoliu” with his composition “The Return of The Chromo Sapiens.”
Salles holds a master of music degree in jazz studies from the New England Conservatory and is the first candidate ever to graduate with a doctoral degree in jazz advancement from the Manhattan School of Music.