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Rio Bahia: Encontro

This is the sort of release that one might recommend for stress reduction and relaxation. Vocalist Al Alabado and guitarist Artie Grijalva lead a group that includes pianist Guilherme Vergueiro, bassist Octavio Bailly, drummer Robertinho Silva, percussionist Meia-Noite, and saxophonist/flutist Don Menza through 13 Brazilian jazz numbers. The tunes include Jobim’s “Look to the Sky,” Milton Nascimento’s “Reis e Rinhas do Maracatu,” and the Joao Donato-Caetano Veloso tune, “A Ra.” The opener, “Samba da Gente,” was composed by Alabado, whose singing is augmented by background vocals on this and several other tunes.

“Despedida de Mangueira,” for example, features 14 backup singers. Alabado and Grijalva are Phoenix natives who have assimilated the Brazilian sound. Alabado’s vocals are as authentically Brazilian as you can get without being a carioca. The mix of uptempo sambas, soothing bossas, lilting vocals, and contained yet driving rhythms had me feeling as if I were lying on Copacabana beach.

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