Hailing from Porto Alegre in Southern Brazil but now based in Brooklyn, New York, jazz guitarist and composer Marcio Philomena creates music that reflects his experience as an international troubadour.
Philomena has today released a single entitled ‘Vibraçōes’, revealing that “it was originally intended as a Bossa nova, but ended up sounding more like a representative mix of my Brazilian and American influences. The band gave it a Pat Metheny-esque spin, which I love.”
‘Vibraçōes’ is included on Philomena’s forthcoming debut album, ‘Trails’, which includes eight other instrumental tracks that are a refreshing blend of jazz, Brazilian music, rock and soundscapes and showcase his love of melody. “One thing I did not want this album to be was too complex,” he states. “What I have learned over the years is that the songs people gravitate towards are the simplest. With this album, I wanted to write something that I would enjoy both as a listener and a musician.”
’Trails’ features two groups, with Helio Alves (piano), Peter Slavov (upright bass) and Rafael Barata (drums) appearing on ‘Vibraçōes’ and Julian Shore (piano), Rick Rosato (upright bass) and Roberto Giaquinto (drums) on all the other tracks.
The album begins with ‘Bourbon’, a traditional jazz waltz immersed in melancholic allure that weaves tender melodies and is reminiscent of 70s-era Jim Hall Trio. “I wanted the opener to set the mood, like a good glass of bourbon,” he explains.
Elsewhere, ‘Oak Street’ – streamed over a million times on Spotify – takes us down the tree-lined road in Brooklyn where he now lives, while by contrast ‘Rio Branco’ is named after a neighbourhood in his home city and is “a sort of Baião, a rhythm originated in the northeast of Brazil.” Another previously issued single, ‘Nana’, is “a tribute to Brazilian singer Nana Caimmy and her signature style of interpreting Bossa novas. I wanted to capture her understated interpretation of melodies and the tranquil atmosphere of a Rio de Janeiro based soap-opera soundtrack.”
Philomena first picked up an acoustic guitar at the age of 11 after seeing Green Day perform on MTV. By 13, he had discovered a love of jazz after seeing his music teacher play through a book of Pat Martino transcriptions. “I didn’t know you could sound like that on the guitar, and it looked challenging, so that inspired me to learn jazz.” Receiving a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in 2009 to study guitar and production, he was selected as a semi-finalist in the Montreux Jazz Festival Guitar Competition soon after. After a period in Brazil, he settled in Brooklyn, where he has become a fixture in NYC’s music scene.
Having issued several singles over the last year, ‘Trails’ sees Philomena striving to expand his abilities as a composer and performer. “I would like the writing aspect of my career to be just as important as the performing,” he is keen to stress. “I strive to create music that appeals to connoisseurs and newcomers alike. ‘Trails’ sees me stepping in that direction.”
1 Bourbon 5:30
2 Rio Branco 6:36
3 Vava 5:10
4 The Last Realm 5:05
5 Nana 4:34
6 Still Frames 6:16
7 Vibraçōes 3:37
8 Oak Street 5:08
9 Trails 7:49