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Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Siboney

Improvisation is kept to a minimum during the tracks on Brazilian guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima’s Siboney (Zoho); the only noticeable on-the-spot playing comes from, go figure, former Bill Evans bassist Eddie Gomez, who’s heard on four tracks. But the lack of surprise doesn’t keep this CD of old-school Latin pop from being a success. A guitarist with varied tastes and experience in jazz, classical and world music, Barbosa-Lima is well capable of inverting and augmenting chords beyond recognition, but he wisely sticks to sharply articulated, compact and uncomplicated voicings and lets the tunes do the work. Barbosa’s arrangements of famous songs like “Perdido” and “Guantanamera” highlight the simplicity of their wonderful melodies. Most of the 20 tracks are solo guitar pieces, but when Gomez, pianist Oscar Hernandez, drummer/percussionist Dafnis Prieto and conguero Pepe Torres appear at different points and in varying combinations, they create peaks in the program that further emphasize how well Barbosa-Lima can arrange a tune. Moreover, these strong ensemble tracks move at fast tempos and reveal that the guitarist’s fingers can maintain the tasteful style at high speeds.

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