Born in the Brazilian Amazon rain forest, Gaudencio Thiago de Mello grew up listening to the hymns brought to the Amazon by missionaries from Mississippi alongside with the rich melodies by J. S. Bach, Vivaldi, Debussy and other famous composers. Years later, he came to another 'jungle': New York City, where he started his career as a musician/composer/arranger, after many years of studying under the guidance of pianist/composer Richard Kimball - who was, then, a teacher at the Juilliard School and at the Manhattan School of Music. At 75, Thiago de Mello is creating a variety of CDs with his rich melodies performed by wonderful musicians chosen specifically for different songs! Just listen to them. Listen to this one: A Flame in the Dark - and you will be taken to a glorious Journey! ********************************* Review: Thiago de Mello "A Flame in the Dark" Review by Alex Henderson Brazilian musician Gaudencio Thiago de Mello, who is now 76, has not only been prolific as a recording artist-the veteran composer and master of organic percussion has also been enjoyably diverse. A variety of albums can be found in his ever-growing catalogue, and de Mello's versatility is illustrated by the simultaneous release of three excellent-and very different-CDs that he was a part of: Sounds of Brazil, A Flame in the Dark and Sharp Edges. A Flame in the Dark is a highly contemplative effort that often favors delicacy, restraint and tenderness; nonetheless, de Mello and the soloists (who include cellist Gustavo Tavares and pianist Richard Kimball) have no problem getting their points across emotionally. Tavares, the album's special guest, is prominently featured-and his expressive solos are a major asset for de Mello on hauntingly pretty, classical-influenced pieces such as "Canto da Paz," "Floresta Encantada" (which de Mello dedicates to his daughter Ayla), "Lullaby for a Grandchild" and "Coming Sweetly Home." Kimball, who de Mello has worked with extensively over the years, is in fine form on several of the songs-and the presence of pianists Helio Alves and Maria Teresa Madeira, bassist David Finck and clarinetist Dexter Payne is also a definite plus. In addition to playing his organic percussion on four of the tracks, de Mello contributes acoustic piano to the lovely "Lullaby for Darius" and acoustic guitar to the thoughtful "An Untamed Heart." The 10-minute title track sounds especially personal, and with good reason: de Mello wrote it in memory of Brazilian native Sergio Vieira de Mello, who served as the United Nations' top envoy to Iraq and was killed when terrorists attacked the UN's headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. Some musicians slow down and put out fewer albums when they grow older, but lucky for us, de Mello is not one of them. He maintains a busy schedule at 76, and all three of these memorable albums demonstrate that when it comes to music, de Mello still has a lot to say. _____________ Alex Henderson is a Philadelphia-based journalist whose work has appeared in Billboard, Spin, JazzTimes, Jazziz, the L.A. Weekly, CD Review, HITS, Black Radio Exclusive (BRE), All About Jazz. Since 1996, he has written thousands of reviews for the All Music Guide. ************************************************ Thiago de Mello's Unfailing Flame Eventually we have to come to terms with the fact that some people on the face of the earth are like Thiago de Mello. They are so amazingly creative, sensitive, and elegant in their art that they seem to belong in a different cosmos. Their verve knows no national boundaries, no time limits, no stylistic schools, and no labels at all, except that one which we may vaguely understand but certainly adore: beauty-sheer, moving, and exquisitely scintillating beauty. So, when Thiago de Mello's new release reached my mailbox, I was both eager and curious to take a listen to his material. I knew there would be layers and layers of plain musical pleasure and aesthetic contemplation of the unknown. I was likewise assured, though, of the upcoming awe-inspiring discoveries that traveled with every work recorded by this Brazilian with a galactic soul. In A Flame in the Dark-An Untamed Heart, Thiago de Mello's brilliant soul honors many lives whose trajectories on this planet have shared a plethora of meaningful gains and losses. In particular, the Amazonian composer pays tribute to the untamed heart of a fellow Brazilian, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who bravely died in a cowardly bombing attack against the United Nations peace mission in Iraq. For a moment, let us consider the stingy, contradictory elements of my previous sentence. Then, let us consider the human heart in it's power to create and to destroy all that exists, including (and most gravely) ourselves, humans. On this new disc, Thiago de Mello has once again gathered a pool of distinguished musicians and friends to play with him their bass, cello, clarinet, drums, or piano. They are Helio Alves, David Finck, Richard Kimball, Maria Teresa Madeira, Dexter Payne and Gustavo Tavares, to cite a few. Here, Thiago de Mello's compositions from different phases in his life mingle in their moods while gently swaying from the ballad to the lullaby, or from a short and endearing overture representing family bereavement, to a jazzy ode evoking a Canadian forest in autumn splendor. In sum, the feeling I'm left with when I listen to A Flame in the Dark is that this disc lures me to be a poet (though I'm not one). I feel like writing lyrics that might possibly catch and translate to myself the sense of elation that I undergo upon listening to rare sounds as blissfully transcendental as Thiago de Mello's harmonies. Dário Borim Jr Host of Brazilliance - WUMD - UMass Dartmouth.