Roberto Perera: In the Mood

Anyone still questioning the harp as an appropriate jazz voice has yet to discover the work of Uruguayan virtuoso Roberto Perera. His Paraguayan instrument, the featured lead on In the Mood (Head’s Up HUCD 3049; 40:33), boasts both plucky acoustic qualities (like a guitar) and resonant, ringing overtones (like vibes), which work convincingly through explorations of Latin and Afro-Caribbean as well as jazz and pop textures. Whether jumping lightly through a bouncy samba with a stomping percussion backbeat (“Joia”) or firing off a zesty Spanish strum (“Six A.M.”), Perera delivers both evocative textures and memorable melodies in a variety of styles. Where “Seven Bridges” boasts a dark, plucky melody in a coolly cinematic spy feel, “Take Your Time” (with guitarist Peter White) rings and drives along as a joyful pop road trip. Even on slicker, keyboard-dressed tunes like “Insatiable,” the elemental beauty of the harp shines through, making Perera’s seventh solo recording a memorable Mood.