Brazilian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ed Motta here serves up his first solo album recorded entirely in America; a class act across so many genres including translations into Portuguese and soundtrack work here Motta lays out a masterclass of 70s-referenced funk, soul and jazz.
It’s a fun game of spot the influences/references as Perpetual Gateways kicks off with Captain’s Refusal, a blatant tracing of the arc from Steely Dan’s Aja and then continues with Hypochondriac’s Fun, which feels like Donny Hathaway singing over a Stevie Wonder groove; a little bit of Extension of A Man, a wee pinch from Innervisions.
It’s back to the Steely Dan vibe for Good Intentions – possibly a version of Dan with George Benson fronting.
And if on the first half of the album it’s more to the soulful-pop side (Benson and Hathaway once again on Reader’s Choice and Heritage Déjà vu) then the second half/side sees the groove tighten, sees little hints of the Brazilian flair, the AOR-obsession is dropped and it’s far more about jazz.
Forgotten Nickname is a showcase for a flute solo by the legendary Hubert Laws, where The Owner and A Town In Flames see the inspired fusion gait of further 70s stars, this time Herbie Hancock and Jaco Pastorius. On the latter, in one of many towering vocal performances – never mind the session stars and cameos that all get a chance to cut heads and kill, this album shines because of Motta’s vocal turns – it’s the sort of soaring effort where only the likes of Kurt Elling could compete.
If you’ve loved Gregory Porter or any of the other names mentioned here and you haven’t – yet – stepped directly into Motta’s world then make this album your sign-up. It starts off subtle and ends in a fire, as the oily-slick grooves of I Remember Julie and electric-piano crescendo of Overblown Overweight burn into your memory. It’s a tour de force from a modern master of so many musical styles. One of the very best albums I’ve heard in an age.