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Roberto Perera: Sensual

Known for his pioneering work with the Paraguayan harp, Roberto Perera puts those lithe, brassy tones in little radio-ready boxes on Sensual. Though Perera utilizes exotic rhythm patterns and much organic instrumentation to highlight his work, these intentions are often washed over with bland keyboards to achieve a smooth-jazz texture. “A Puro Dolor,” for example, has a pristine music box quality in its piano and sweet harp-picked lead, but the tick-tock of its poppy, modern programming distracts from the organic tones. Likewise the overslick keyboard work blunts the pretty, ornamented edges of “Gracias a la Vida” and the polyrhythmic fun of “Un Beso.” “Susurro de Olas” is delivered directly from the land of nice, if not particularly distinctive, pop-jazz ballads. More elemental tunes, from the dancing, sinewy lines of “Sensual” to a dramatic, postmodern Latin twist on “Classical Gas,” give Perera room to sting and swing with his gentle instrument. Best of all is the least modernist cut on the album-a sparkling tribute to Jobim titled “Remembering Antonio.” Executed with the assistance of an expert, traditional ensemble highlighting flute and flugelhorn, this piece dances and shines in the spirit of its inspiration.

Originally Published