November 2000

Kevin Breit/ Cyro Baptista
Blue Note Records

If you have an open mind connected to equally open ears, then you're likely to dig the sounds produced by this international duo. Throughout, Canadian guitarist Breit wields a variety of acoustics and electrics, while Brazilian percussionist Baptista manipulates an array of instruments. The results range from atmospheric to quirky to downright wacky and draw on a wide range of influences, including country and techno.
The group's frequently twisted use of country elements is displayed on the opener, "The Legend of Johnny Cactus," which features a combination of skulking acoustic slide work graced by exotic percussion. In the same philosophical vein but with a different groove, "Sao Paulo Slim" bounces along with clucking electric guitar and a Brazilian/Nashville underpinning that's broken up by some cool melodic/chordal episodes that are almost anthemic. If you're getting the idea that this isn't exactly a jazz album, you're correct; however, jazz sounds do enter the picture in the context of slow-mo versions of "Take the 'A' Train" and "Caravan," each of which appears in a medley that covers additional territory. And Cassandra Wilson guests on a starkly effective reading of "Home on the Range."
Overall this music is cool, creative, eclectic and highly musical-and some of it would have made a perfect backdrop for Ren & Stimpy's crazy antics back when they were riding high.

Originally published in November 2000

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