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by Ian Mann

October 03, 2006


This album has its moments, particularly the instrumental "Tristeza" but to me it is a disappointment and something of a wasted opportunity.

Kind Of Blue is a new record label founded by one Roy Tarrant and is based in Switzerland. It boasts an impressive roster of artists including US jazzmen ranging from Kenny Barron to Phil Woods plus other artists who for ease of categorisation are likely to be placed under the “world music” banner.

Brazilian guitarist/pianist/vocalist Toquinho belongs in this latter camp. However this lavishly packaged album is something of a misnomer. Toquinho is undoubtedly a master acoustic guitarist but this album is not quite what it says on the tin. Toquinho has been unable to resist the temptation to make the music as lavish as the packaging. He has overdubbed bass, drums, flute and strings which has had the effect of over-egging the pudding. These extraneous elements, particularly the strings add a sugary sheen, which detracts from the very real strengths of his guitar playing.

The album seems to be trying too hard to play to American/European tastes. Although Toquinho sings in Portugese his choice of material is largely confined to safe bossa/samba options from composers such as Jobim. In effect it is a selection of Brazilian greatest hits. You’ll have heard most of them before. Do we really need yet another rendition of “Girl From Ipanema”? Let alone a syrupy Brazilian version of Bach.

Toquinho has a relaxed, easy going singing style, which is pleasant enough, but he is hardly in the class of Milton Nascimento.

This album has its moments, particularly the instrumental “Tristeza” but to me it is a disappointment and something of a wasted opportunity. Toquinho should have had the courage to do a genuinely unplugged record and really show off his capabilities with a guitar. This album lacks the raw urgency of Argentinian Guillermo Rozenthuler, the adventurousness of Egberto Gismonti or the exuberance of artists such as Milton Nascimento or Monica Vasconcelos. Ironically much of it is the kind of bland and inoffensive mush you’ll hear in the background in a coffee bar - or worse still an elevator. But you just feel it could have been so much more.

It is unfortunate that my first exposure to this new label should be such a disappointment. Hopefully albums by other artists on the impressive roster will be more hard hitting especially those by some of the heavyweight US jazz musicians on KOB’s books. It will be interesting to find out.

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