Philly jazz quintet Ensemble Novo is about to get busy. Both in terms of style — their music has a cool, contagious groove you’ll bob along to as soon as they begin — and in terms of their gig calendar. Tonight: SOUTH Jazz Cafe on North Broad Street. Sunday: 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties. Next Wednesday: Penn Museum’s summer concert series.
Led by sax player and flautist Tom Moon — who, in his previous life, was chief music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer — Ensemble Novo draws on suave tones of Brazilian pop of the 50s and 60s. The iconic Getz / Gilberto record is one clear touchstone, as is the music of Antônio Carlos Jobim, whose songs sparked the initial bond between Moon and guitarist Ryan McNeely on the local local open mic scene. They are joined by vibraphone player Behn Gillece, drummer Jim Hamilton and bassist Mark Pryzbylowski, and I also hear echoes of sounds outside the Latin jazz spectrum in their playing: Caetano Veloso, for instance, or even Europop pastiche masters Stereolab. Continue reading →