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Oscar Castro-Neves: All One

The pioneering Brazilian guitarist is joined on this hit-and-miss offering by an all-star cast including pianist Don Grusin, bassist Brian Bromberg, violinist Charlie Bisharat, reedman Gary Meek and drummers Alex Acuña and Mike Shapiro. Vocalist Luciana Souza appears on Castro-Neves’ poignant mid-1960s ballad “Morrer de Amor (I Live to Love You),” which remains a popular wedding song in Brazil to this day, and also on the breezy samba number “Nao Me Diga Adeus (Don’t Tell Me Goodbye),” a clever reworking of a hit by Sergio Mendes’ Brasil ’66.

Along with the obligatory Jobim tune (“Double Rainbow”) and the guitarist’s own sprightly choro “Holding With an Open Hand,” Castro-Neves has his way with “Naima,” turning that revered Coltrane anthem into a slick, upbeat samba romp underscored by hip-hop and Afro-Cuban rhythms. There’s also a surprisingly effective Afro-Cuban take on “‘Round Midnight” and soothing samba renditions of “The Very Thought of You” and “There Will Never Be Another You,” the latter two featuring Castro-Neves’ own intimate vocals. A particularly ambitious undertaking here is the guitarist’s alluring samba arrangement of Chopin’s “Prelude Op. 28, No. 20,” which scores considerably higher on the integrity scale than his embarrassing interpretation of the lame Michael Franks funk number “One Bad Habit.”

Originally Published