(John Dearman, Scott Tennant, Matthew Greif, William Kanengiser, Luciana Souza – vocals)
The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet has been exploring a wide variety of music for nearly 30 years now, and in their latest album turn their attention to the cultural melting pot of music that is Brazil. Their numbers have changed slightly with the replacement of longtime member Andrew York with classical guitarist Matthew Greif – who is also well-versed in flamenco and has played with Dave Brubeck.
The quartet admitted one of their most prominent guitar influences were the Brazilians, but they had avoided recording Brazilian music, feeling that other great composers and arrangers who were Brazilian were doing it better. Brazilian jazz vocalist Souza talked them into it, encouraging the LAGQ to just follow their instincts in performing it. The quartet collaborated with some top Brazilian musicians who were friends of theirs. They brought in a percussionist for A Furiosa, by their friend Paulo Bellinati, and also performed Carlo’s Dance by the same guitarist-composer, together with flutist Katisse Buckingham. Two other tracks feature flute and percussion, and vocalist Souza is heard on Jobim’s Stone Flower and Periera’s Sambadalu.
All 15 tracks are a delight, and I don’t think any of Brazilian performers have offered such a varied program of music highlighting multiple guitars plus guest musicians, at least on U.S. releases. The very specific placement of the four guitarists across the front of the soundstage adds much interest to the music. If you want more details about the spatial layout of the performers in the surround SACD option on the disc, go to the Telarc web site at www.telarc.com/LAGQ And if you’re one of those two-channel diehards… you’re missing out!
TrackList: . Mas Que Nada – (Jorge Ben/Emily Cranz) 2. Samba Novo – (Baden Powell) 3. O Morro nao tem vez – (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes) Jobim Medley: 4. Modinha 5. A Felicidade 6. Stone Flower 7. A Lenda do Caboclo – (Heitor Villa-Lobos) 8. Bluezilian – (Clarice Assad) 9. Sambadalu – (Marco Pareira) 10. Cafezinho – (Matthew Dunne) 11. De Sabado pra Dominguinhos – (Hermeto Pascoal) 12. Preludio – (Raimundo Penaforte) 13. Gangorra – (Raimundo Penaforte) 14. Carlo’s Dance – (Paulo Bellinati) 15. A Furiosa – (Paulo Bellinati)
– John Sunier