Born with a love of music and a talent for the guitar, Brazilian guitarist and composer Joao Gaspar makes his instrumental debut with Camaleao Carioca
, serving notice that there's a new young man on the strings that will not soon be forgetten. Offering original compositions with a variety of flavors, the music includes not only a good measure of the bossa/samba style that one would expect from a Brazilian artist, but a bit of the world influence, a touch of electric fusion, jazz funk and a taste of classical jazz.
Trained in classical and flamenco traditions, Gaspar is proficient on a number of string instruments and is featured here playing electric, dobro and nylon-string acoustic guitars as well as electric sitar, mandolin and banjo. Recorded in 2006 in the guitarist's homeland, the album features a cast of top Brazilian musicians, with special guests including pianists Daniel Jobim (grandson of Antonio Carlos Jobim) and Leandro Braga, acoustic guitarist Guinga and saxophonist Leo Gandelman.
Rolling out with the melody rich samba/funk opener, "Rola Bola," the music showcases Gaspar's more than ample prowess with crisp solos wrapped around solid and fluid support from the band. "Ceu Aberto" finds Gaspar on acoustic guitar, playing pop-infused melodies backed up by pianist David Feldman.
On the only standard here, Guinga's "O Coco Do CoCo," both guitarists play off each other, matching salvos on acoustic guitars. On the world-influenced "Nevoeiro" Gaspar's electric sitar weaves in and out of different melodies with a bit of bossa nova, backed by pianist Jobim.
The music turns interesting on a couple of surprise tracks that demonstrate Gaspar's diversity. Gaspar plays a little fusion with some terrific electric guitar riffs on "Blueseando," a burner that also features trumpeter/flugelhornist Jesse Sadoc's only appearance on the album. The very funky "DDA" follows, with a blistering tenor solo from Gandelman that's matched by Gaspar's own electric guitar joust.
Rounding out the program is "Choro Invisivel," a beautiful ballad with a warm bossa color, romantic slant and delicious harmony, and "Sereno," another light ballad featuring Gaspar solo on the acoustic steel guitar. An impressive first effort by a master of the guitar, Camaleao Carioca delivers on many fronts with excellent musicianship, sophisticated charts and clever arrangements, all resulting in one beautiful package that warrants repeated spins.
Personnel: Joao Gaspar: electric guitar, dobro, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, electric sitar; David Feldman: piano and Fender Rhodes (1, 2, 6); Marco Bahia: drums (1, 3, 9); Caca Colon: drums (2, 6); Christiano Galvo: drums (4, 8); Cassio Cunha: drums (5, 7); Bruno Aguilar: bass (1, 3); Pedro Moraes: bass (2, 6); Ney Conceicao: bass (4, 8); Alberto Continentino: bass (5, 7); Igor Eca: bass (9); Marco Lobo: percussion (3-5,9); Joca Perpignam: percussion (1), Andre Siqueira: percussion (2, 6); Leandro Braga: piano (9); Daniel Jobim: piano (4); Jesse Sadoc: trumpet and flugelhorn (6); Leo Gandelman: tenor saxophone (7); Leticia Carvalho: vocals (2).