Bass instincts: Nilson Matta of Trio da Paz ready to get his kicks at Morristown jazz fest

Trio da Paz

Trio da Paz


This was a disastrous year for Brazilian soccer fans.

They should have more to cheer about on the Morristown Green this Saturday, when three of their countrymen are sure to win new fans at the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival.

Nilson Matta,  Romero Lubambo and Duduka da Fonseca — better known as Trio da Paz — kick off a free day of music at noon.

In jazz, as in World Cup soccer, talent and teamwork are crucial. This acoustic trio promises both.

Trio da Paz. From left: Duduko da Fonseca, Romero Lubambo and Nilson Matta. Photo by John Clifford.

Trio da Paz. From left: Duduka da Fonseca, Romero Lubambo and Nilson Matta. Photo by John Clifford.

“We are three different personalities. But when we play together, the three become just one,” said Matta, the bass player.

He and drummer Fonseca were teammates on the pitch as well, playing in an amateur soccer league in Rio de Janeiro in the late ’70s. Matta, now a resident of Cresskill, hung up his cleats in 1982 after a broken left arm sidelined him musically for an entire year.

“Now I walk a lot,” he said.

Not walking bass, however. Matta views his instrument as a much richer part of the trio tapestry.

“Bass can give support rhythmically, harmonically and melodically,” he said. “When the guitar [Lubambo] is playing a solo, I not only play the roots, I complement his ideas, along with the drums, which fill in the colors with the cymbals and snare.”


Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014

The Morristown Green

Admission: Free. Bring lawn chairs or beach blankets.

Noon: Trio da Paz

2 pm: Guitar Summit: Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, Vinny Raniolo, Ed Laub

4 pm:  Winard Harper and Jeli Posse

6 pm: Mikey Junior and his band

8 pm: Blues guitarist Matt Schofield

Growing up in Sao Paulo in the late ’50s, Matta envied his mother, a classical pianist, and his older brother, a drummer. He wanted to play an instrument, too.  “Which one?” asked his mother, playing some records for him. Bossa nova, Ray Conniff, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong…

“I like the fat sounds!” the 10-year-old declared.

“Oh, you like the bass?”

When Matta laid his eyes on an upright bass in a music shop, a love affair began. “A big violin!” he exclaimed, remembering the moment with boyish delight.

He listened and learned, and learned some more at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

The bass has opened doors around the world, enabling Matta to record eight albums and rub musical elbows with the likes of Herbie Mann, Joe Henderson, Yo Yo Ma and Don Pullen.

Trio da Paz. L-R: Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Duduko da Fonseca.

Trio da Paz. L-R: Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Duduka da Fonseca.

On Saturday, Matta and his mates will mix original songs with numbers such as Victor Feldman’s Seven Steps to Heaven and Chick Corea’s Humpty Dumpty– infused with intricate Brazilian rhythms and a unique acoustic flavor, of course.

“It’s a combination of the rhythms of Brazil and jazz improvization,” Matta said. “Without the patterns and syncopation, we’d be nothing.”

When the threesome joined forces in New York back in 1985, there was no question about the unit’s name. Loose translation: “The Peace Trio.”  Meaning, at peace with each other.

“We are so in synch, on the same path, in the same boat, Matta said.

The way Brazilians wish their national team had played in the World Cup.

But in fairness, Trio da Paz has had 29 years to perfect its moves.



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