Ed Motta: Behind the Tea Chronicles

Editor's Choice

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details


Alberto Continentino (b)
Ed Motta (v)
Sergio Mello (d)
Paulette McWilliams (bv)
Michel Limma (p)
Phillip Ingram (bv)
Czech FILMharmonic Orchestra
João Oliveira (g)




Media Format:


Catalogue Number:



Rec. date not stated

In his native Brazil, the singer and multi-instrumentalist Ed Motta is known as a rock and soul artist, but with this richly complex new album, his first in seven years, he achieves a masterful synthesis of genres, including jazz. Best not to fret over the baffling title. Instead, wallow in the soaring melodies, lush vocal and orchestral harmonies, and a luxuriously burnished production. If you can imagine a team of scientists plugging Donald Fagen into the mains and administering a huge jolt of energy, while simultaneously pumping a massive shot of new ideas into him from a plasma bag, that’s pretty much what we’ve got here.

The comparison between Motta and Fagen is neither fanciful nor coincidental: one of the most Fagenesque tracks is ‘Gaslighting Nancy’, its title a direct hommage to Steely Dan’s ‘Gaslighting Abbie’, with its constantly shifting key centres and cascading harmonies. Some of the songs sound like long-lost outtakes from the band’s Aja: just listen to the guitar stylings of João Oliveira, who plays as if he’s had a decade of personal tuition from Larry Carlton and Denny Dias (and who knows, maybe he has).

According to Motta himself, the plan was to create a sonic world that would evoke old films and TV series. And cinematic it certainly is. The opener ‘Newsroom Costumers’ with its bold flourishes of strings and marimba, chattering clavinet and Dan-style slash chords on the guitar, is followed by the ecstatic ‘Slumberland’, complete with harp, latin percussion and multi-layered vocals. One could go on, but one won’t. Let’s just say that this is the most impressive vocal jazz album since Jarrod Lawson’s Be the Change from a couple of years ago.

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