Fabio Fonseca Trio: Opus Samba

Douglas Payne’s liner notes for this album suggest that “the Hammond organ tends to get the wind knocked out of it by American and European players,” but “there is something about Brazil’s practitioners that emits the warm breeze of the Brazilian beaches.” This writer confesses that, after a concerted, painful effort, he is utterly unable to feel any warm breezes from Opus Samba. Since this review is being written in Seattle, Wash., in February, the failure cannot be because Brazilian beaches lack allure.

In the spirit of full disclosure, it may be because this writer has had a longstanding aural blind spot when it comes to the Hammond B3. Payne is not wrong that Fonseca has a lighter-if you will, breezier-touch than the average sweaty, greasy organist. Opus Samba is also an uncommonly well-recorded organ record. The clear sound (by engineer Marco Aurélio Oliveira) means that, as Fonseca bounces amiably across the top of his inconsequential melodies, so devoid of interesting musical content, we have that B3 right in our faces, in all its piping, shrieking, wheezing, nasal glory. Not the best scenario for a B3-phobe.