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Ed Johnson and Novo Tempo: Movimento

One wouldn’t expect a fellow named Ed Johnson to sing as though Portuguese were his first language. But this nylon-string guitarist and vocalist, with his octet Novo Tempo, has fashioned an authentic Brazilian jazz-pop sound from his home base in Palo Alto, Calif. Fittingly for such a locale, the music on his third release, Movimento (Cumulus), is sunny and upbeat, lushly orchestrated and produced but not sugary (except when Johnson sings in English). Harmonic nuances abound, along with richly layered choruses and tight ensemble playing (the group features bass and drums, electric guitar, piano, percussion, sax and trumpet). Johnson’s voice is pleasantly plain, with a highly developed falsetto. Most of the compositions are Johnson’s, including the goosebump-worthy “Exceto Nos,” but the band also adapts Gerry Mulligan’s “O Bom Alvinho” (a tribute to Hermeto Pascoal) as well as Jobim’s classic “A Felicidade.” Guitarist Scott Sorkin also weighs in with the laid-back “For T.” Reedist Kristen Strom and trumpet/flugelhornist John Worley turn in a number of strong solos.

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