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Marcos Ariel: My Only Passion

Expressive piano work pulling together threads ranging from classical chordings to modern beat-box rhythms is at the heart of My Only Passion, an oddly diverse, but appealing offering from Brazilian keyboardist Marcos Ariel. From a clipped, stylized cover of “Girl From Ipanema” with a mix of scat, spoken and singing vocals and ’70s wah effects, to the explosive tropical romp “Millennium,” pitting the romantic guitar work of Ricardo Silviera against an impossibly frantic rhythm, Ariel’s work is sometimes just so weird that it works. Other striking originals include “Sacred Passage,” peppered with dark choral samples over singing bass and wandering piano to create the feel of a search; and the title track, “My Only Passion,” which finds Ariel spreading and cascading chords in a classical style, over the tick-tock of a modern-meets-bolero rhythm. Ariel’s solo piano work proves equally diverse and arresting on “Moon’s Mood,” which combines rolling chords with stiff-fingered Latin riffs for a classical-romantic flavor, and showcasing the keyboardist as the musical equivalent of an expressionist painter.

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