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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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From Yucatan to Rio

Zoho ZM 200907



  1. Agua de Beber
  2. Klavier Latino
  3. LP 07
  4. We've Come Undone
  5. Nuevos Horizontes
  6. Morning Breeze
  7. Azul y Negro
  8. Remain
  9. Maria
  10. Huracan.
Gabriel Espinosa - Bass, background vocals
Claudio Roditi - Trumpet, flugelhorn
George Robert - Alto sax
Helio Alves - Piano, keyboards
Romero Lubambo - Guitar (tracks 3, 4, 6, 8, 9)
Dende - Percussion
Adriano Santos - Drums (tracks 1, 3, 4, 7, 10)
Antonio Sanchez - Drums (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8, 9)
Darmon Meader, Kim Nazarian - Vocals (track 1)
Alison Wedding - Vocals (tracks 1, 2, 4, 8, 9)
Anat Cohen - Clarinet (track 5)
Patricio Espinosa - Background vocals (track 9) 

My heart sank when I encountered this CD, as it seemed likely to be a collection of Brazilian bossa novas - and I have recently had more than my fill of the bossa (which can degenerate into characterless easy listening). But I needn't have worried. Gabriel Espinosa was undeniably influenced by the bossa nova, growing up in the Mexican state of Yucatan, where he absorbed the bossas that came from Brazil in the 1960s. This album even opens with a Jobim composition - Agua de Beber. But many of the tunes are originals by Gabriel Espinosa, who thinks of himself first and foremost as a composer and arranger. He gained a diploma in arranging at the Berklee College and it is his arrangements which make this album exceptional - and nothing like the bland collection of bossas I had anticipated.

Agua de Beber is rendered special by rich vocals from Darmon Meader and Kim Nazarian of New York Voices. Klavier Latino blends brass with voices and is given a kick by Antonio Sanchez's thrilling drumming. Sanchez (from Mexico) is one of several international artists on the album, including Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi (beautifully proclaiming the theme and a solo on LP 07), Swiss altoist George Robert, and Israeli clarinettist Anat Cohen (outstanding on Nuevos Horizontes). Brazilian pianist Helio Alves is another excellent musician, with a plangent sound that continually pleases.

Morning Breeze has an appropriately airy feel, with Roditi graceful on flugelhorn. Azul y Negro is a fine example of Espinosa's arranging abilities, with alto and trumpet working together harmoniously. Like Espinosa's other compositions, Maria is gentle without falling into the trap of insipidity. George Robert's alto soars too briefly, followed by a delicate solo from Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo. Huracan ends the album with a bustling samba.

Bossa nova literally means "new tendency" or "new thing". Gabriel Espinosa renews the genre with his imaginative arrangements and some top-class musicians.

Tony Augarde 

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