What is Supergenerous? Well, basically it's two guys, Brazilian percussionist Cyro Batista and Canadian guitarist Kevin Breit, making a hell of a lot of great music that defies easy categorization. There's not much to compare them to, but if you enjoy similarly adventurous spirits like Marc Ribot's Los Cubanos Postizos, the Jazz Passengers and the Latin Playboys, you should get a kick out of Supergenerous.
On their debut recording on Blue Note, Batista and Breit - who share big-time pop and jazz credits with the likes of Paul Simon, Cassandra Wilson, k.d. lang, Herbie Hancock and Laurie Anderson - mix and match a wide variety of sounds into an enticing and original musical stew. There's a taste of country blues on the opener, "The Legend of Johnny Cactus," a bit of Western swing on "Sao Paolo Slim," some tropical moods straight out of Buena Vista on "A Sigh and Shiver," even journeys into trance on "Pelicula" and techno on "God's Parking Lot." For straight-up jazz fans, the duo offers highly original interpretations of Ellington's "Caravan" and "Take the A Train." And for good measure, and good humor, they throw in a sweet take on the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.
In addition to a wealth of talent and exuberance, Batista and Breit bring some very impressive collections of instruments to the proceedings. Batista's percussion arsenal includes various Latin drums, cowbells, metal refrigerator drawers and several self-made instruments. Not to be outdone, Breit plays a variety of electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, even a contraption called a "Guitorgan," which was probably used by '60s garage bands. Though it's essentially a duo record - Cassandra Wilson sits in for a down-home take on "Home on the Range" - it frequently sounds as if a much larger band is at work here.
While it will probably get filed in the World Music bin at your local CD shop, Supergenerous is really that rarest of things in contemporary music: something you haven't heard before.
Personnel: Kevin Breit, guitars; Cyro Batista, percussion.