Joao Paulo/Peter Epstein: Esquina

Having previously recorded the albums O Exilio and Almas, pianist Joao Paulo and soprano and alto sax player Peter Epstein are no strangers to each other. With seven original compositions-six by Paulo and one by Epstein-Esquina opens with “Canto,” a soft piece featuring both artists in alternating separate solos. According to Paulo, that tune is “the beginning of every tale and the accounting for every number.” On “Hino-Pasagem,” Paulo’s underlying dark piano tones contrast with Epstein’s soaring soprano sax solos. This counterpoint interplay repeats itself on other tracks, as on “Para Sempre” and especially on “Good Fever” and “Arde o Mar.” For most listeners, those repetitions will sound unfocused and monotonous. But on the final track, “Esquina,” Paulo and Epstein sound both focused and lively. Too bad the rest of Esquina doesn’t contain the spirit of its namesake.