With eight CDs to his name as a leader and numerous recording credits as a sideman to the likes of Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, Barbra Streisand and Chris Botti, guitarist-composer Anthony Wilson can be acknowledged as a seasoned vet. And while he’s had his triumphs in the past with organ trios, nonets, tentets and guitar duos, Campo Belo is something completely different. On this outing, which is at once audacious and engaging, Wilson blends beautifully with the young Brazilian musicians André Mehmari on piano, Guto Wirtti on bass and Edú Ribeiro on drums, on alluring, vaguely Pat Metheny-inspired originals like “March to March,” “Patrimonio” and the title track. The breezy “Edu” features Mehmari overdubbing accordion for some brisk unisons with Wilson on a tricky head. The two musicians recreate their tight chemistry with more intricate, chopsbusting unisons (Mehmari on piano this time) on “After the Flood,” the only conventionally swinging 4/4 number on the collection.
“Elyria” is a gently lyrical number, propelled by Ribeiro’s supple brushwork, that recalls the heartland magic of Metheny and Bill Frisell. On the more aggressive side is the urgent, odd-metered “Valsacatu,” with its undulating samba rhythm, and the bombastic, groove-heavy closer “Transitron,” a vehicle for some formidable stretching by the guitarist. On the sublime side there’s the affecting “Flor de Sumaré,” a moving number that gradually gathers intensity before peaking with Wilson’s solo abandon, and the somber, introspective “Etna.”
With this superb outing, Wilson maintains his modus operandi of consistently high-quality projects that take on new concepts. There’s nothing else like this in his discography to date.