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July/August 2006

Doug Munro
Big Boss Bossa Nova
Chase Music Group

Doug Munro, who has written a number of books on guitar playing in addition to releasing several albums, began to build a repertoire around the nylon-string guitar following a residency at a Brazilian restaurant in Port Chester, N.Y. Big Boss Bossa Nova is the result of that period and features Javon Jackson (tenor sax), Ray Vega (trumpet, flugelhorn), Harvie S (bass) and Richie Morales (drums) joining the guitarist.

While the idea of his acoustic guitar in a bossa nova setting sounds great on paper, the combination never really gels. The rhythm section plays safely and rigidly without really meshing with Monro’s guitar. Despite his facility, Monro’s clean tone sounds out of place among the slick electric accompaniment.

There’s always a risk that, when taking a song out of its original context, it will lose the subtleties that made it engaging in the first place. “Milestones” is the victim here, when its staccato theme gets bossa-funkified and ruined by some ghostly backing vocals (provided by Munro). War’s “Low Rider” could have worked, but it too gets oversimplified to the point of dullness. Munro’s own “Confessions of a Liar” and “A Song for Sonny” have a haunting melody and strong groove, respectively, but get bogged down by stiff performances and more of those terrible vocals.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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