Ricardo Silveira – Storyteller – Adventure Music AM1058 2, 46:35 ***:
(Ricardo Silveira – co-producer, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals (tracks 3, 10), keyboards (track 4); Bill Cantos – keyboards (tracks 1, 5, 7-9); Marcel East – co-producer, keyboards (tracks 1, 6); Jeff Beal – trumpet (track 1), flugelhorn (track 7); Alphonso Johnson –bass (tracks 1, 7); Mike Shapiro – drums (tracks 1, 3, 8), percussion (track 8); Luis Conte – percussion (tracks 1, 4-7); Eduardo Chermont – co-producer (tracks 1, 4, 7), drum programming (tracks 1, 6, 9); Rique Pantoja – keyboards, synthesizer programming (track 3); Keith Jones – bass (tracks 3, 5, 8); Meia Noite – percussion (tracks 3, 6, 8); Justo Almario – saxophone (tracks 4, 7), flute (track 4); Armand Sabal Lecco – bass (tracks 4, 6, 9); Joe Heredia – drums (tracks 4, 6); Tris Imboden – drums (tracks 5, 7); Renato Neto – keyboards (tracks 6, 8-9); Dave Weckl – drums (track 9); Mitchell Forman – keyboards, synth bass, co-producer (track 10); Walfredo Reyes, Jr. – drums, percussion (track 10))
Seventeen years ago, guitarist Ricardo Silveira had a huge soft-jazz hit with his top-five single, “Francesa,” which has become a staple of smooth jazz compilations and related song lists. Silveira is currently on the Adventure Music label, which has reissued Silveira’s popular 1995 recording, Storyteller, which features “Francesa.” The CD has been remastered, which makes a subtle dramatic difference, especially through a high-fidelity stereo system where the interplay of various musicians can really be noticed, and has been re-released in a digipak with new artwork (with credits but no historical liner notes).
Silveira was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, studied at the Berklee College of Music, backed Herbie Mann in New York City for a while, then headed back to Brazil where he collaborated with Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento and others, and began to craft his catalog of solo projects. Silveira is a polished player well-suited to his style of straight-ahead, contemporary jazz which leans toward an audience-friendly ambiance. Latin jazz and Brazilian flavors are sprinkled throughout his albums, but the emphasis typically has been, and continues to be, on material which is amiably melodic and moderately rhythmic and appeals to a broad spectrum of listeners. Storyteller definitely fits this mold.
Despite a roster of mainly Brazilian players, the 11 tracks (all originals) share a low-key vibe with often meditative arrangements: this is music which might be heard in the background at a day spa or on headphones while on a leisurely early morning jog. Silveira opens with “Francesa,” which has maintained its charm, but is still marred somewhat by the inclusion of a drum machine and a by-the-numbers arrangement which evokes likeminded tunes by Earl Klugh or Lee Ritenour. The music gets a lift on the Latin-tinged title track, which has energy supplemented by Silveira’s Pat Metheny-esque picking and a fast-paced rhythm section. Another standout is the Caribbean-clinched “Island Magic,” which conjures a carnival spirit and is heightened by Justo Almario’s undulating flute, which brings to mind Herbie Mann. Silveira’s breezy fret runs are also a highpoint. The best moments, though, come during the nimble, funky “The Puzzle,” where drum programming and twinned keyboards supply a supple groove, while Silveira delivers smooth jazz with chops, similar to what Klugh did on his underrated 1982 release, Low Ride.
Drummer Dave Weckl has also put his stamp on crossover jazz, and guests on the affable “Always There,” although his contributions are overcast by too much ‘90s-era keyboard and drum machine effects. Point of fact is too many times such digital facades tend to harm Silveira’s material on Storyteller, or perhaps it’s just a case of too much Hollywood-styled production (the album was recorded at several Los Angeles studios). The otherwise satisfying “That Day in Tahiti,” for example, could have benefited from more focus on acoustic guitar and less on the obtrusive synth bass and keyboards. Generally, however, Silveira seems to have crafted what he set out to do: commercialized jazz with agreeable melodies which do not demand close scrutiny. There are memorable bits throughout, but this may not be the most suitable setting to experience Silveira’s compositional and guitar talents.
TrackList: Francesa; Upon a Time (Interlude); Storyteller; Island Magic; Still Think of You; The Puzzle; Fountains; After the Rain; Always There; That Day in Tahiti; Upon a Time (Reprise).
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