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Let's Cool One through the years: Playlists available here.
Best Albums of 2013.
A few reviews:
When you're a guitarist from Brazil, everyone expects that you play only Brazilian music," Rick Udler says. And while "Nawlins" has more to do with cheap beads than escolas de samba, and "The Tramp" could have come from a vintage piano roll, Udler is authoritative and original in the various musical styles popular in Brazil since Choro hit the charts in 1870. He demonstrates Brazilian guitar techniques on a new Guitar Workshop instructional release, and here dedicates compositions to masters Paulinho Nogueira ("Amigo Paulo") and Badan Powell ("Tribal").
Even with its transcontinental span, the album is cohesive and concise. Udler knows what he wants to say on each and gets right to it. The CD is short -- the 12 tracks fit into the first half of a futebol game -- but there is no shortage of ideas. The title track has Jazz Messengers cool, "Choro pra J.P." brings to mind Cesar Mariano and Helio Delmiro, and "Remembrance" is wee-hours existentialism in ballad form.
The sparse accompaniment - bass and percussion here and there, piano on one cut - is masterful in its minimalism. João Parahyba can shake Carneval out of a tambourine, and Zé Carvalho's bass fills a solid pocket with time as relaxed as a rocking chair. The recorded sound is excellent, with the guitar immediate and clear, but very acoustic.
Spirit and samba
Paul Meyers & Santi Debriano
This is a conversation between two witty, equally-matched masters. Meyers plays acoustic guitar with Brazilian rhythmic and harmonic inflections and big-bodied electric with a boundless and fresh vocabulary. Long-time collaborator Debriano takes an equal share of lead lines, alternating between his articulate plucking and sonorous bow work.
Although each are prolific composers, there are only two originals here, Debriano's haunting "Circle chant", and a Monkish "Blues for Mel" from Meyers. The balance of the record, standards and a few gospel tunes, is so authoritatively played as to give the familiar a new face.
Meyers, in demand especially by vocalists, is currently on tour with Andy Bey. Debriano adds his fourth Mapleshade recording to a lengthy list of credits spanning many styles.
Mapleshade's home-grown minimalistic recording techniques pay off handsomely here. You can hear the grain of the wood in Debriano's bass and Meyers's soft scatting behind his bop solos conveys that this is real, live music.
Houston native Jason Moran's sixth album for the Blue Note label came out shortly after his 30th birthday. He's again in the company of his trio from four of those albums, Tarus Mateen on bass and drummer Nasheet Waits, who can subdivide time on a dime and leave changes.
Moran adds guitarist Marvin Sewell to the mix on several cuts. Sewell channels his fellow Chicagoan Albert King on "I'll play the blues for you" and brings a loose-stringed acoustic buzz to "Aubade", a tune Moran penned with mentor and Blue Note alumnus Andrew Hill.
Moran brings his hometown's big beat to two more entries in his "Gansterism" series and a driving "Jump up", with fuel from Sewell.
Old "Best Of" collections:
Let's Cool One
Best of 97
Nette - Bob Stewart
Let's Cool One
Best of 98
Tallacathca - Alvin Youngblood Hart
Let's Cool One
Best of 99
Done what the doctor could not do - Bells of Joy