Brazilian bossa nova never seems to age, as Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto sound as cool and hip today as in the ’60s. And while new hipsters Bossacucanova, Céu and Bebel Gilberto are proponents of the bossa nova/electronica hybrid, Rio native Marcos Ariel holds onto what made brazil famous for 4 Friends. The veteran pianist continues his sunny passion for the lovely, softer side of bossa nova and light jazz you can enjoy with a caipirinha cocktail. Friends gathered here are guitarist Ricardo Silveira, contrabassist João Baptista and drummer Jurim Moreira.
“Bossa Love” might have you remembering why you fell in love with bossa nova in the first place, while the graceful “Passionate Eyes” serves as a bookend to “Green Eyes,” an Ariel nugget from 1999 that broke through to smooth-jazz radio. A performer for more than three decades, Ariel’s primary influences are acknowledged on 4 Friends—“Ipanema Curves,” “Le Café” and “Yellow Train” integrate Brazilian moods and the contemporary jazz popularized by Joe Sample and David Benoit.
But amid the acoustic mood, two plugged-in keyboard tunes best explore the joyful mélange of bossa-jazz-pop. The quirky sentiment of “Don Azimuth” might be one that lounge-master Walter Wanderley would be recording today. In fact, the song’s a tribute to Brazil’s wonderfully eclectic group Azymuth and bossa pianist João Donato. “Rhapsody in Rio,” however, is Ariel all the way—a frisky run down the keys with Silveira jumping in with dexterous nylon-string accompaniment.