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Romero Lubambo: Rio de Janeiro Underground

Brazilians Cesar Camargo Mariano and Romero Lubambo douse the listener with an inspiring percussive spiritedness on Duo that lends strength to its festively melodic bounty. “O Que E, O Que E” and “April Child,” for example, bear witness to such a claim particularly well. Guitarist Lubambo features flawless technique, with classical chops spicing his aggressive attacks-occasionally extended into cascading warp-drive lines that handle anything from bop single-note passages to chordal voicings in vocabularies ranging from blues to any place in the rich repertoire of his native land. His phrasings play at will with the beat, both supporting and superseding it into a virtual presence with magnificent tension and release, and pianist Mariano matches him peerlessly throughout.

The keyboardist has a well-established reputation due to his work with singer Elis Regina. Mariano wrote some of the material on Duo, which also includes music from Antonio Carlos Jobim, Lubambo as well as others and a beautiful rendition of Clifford Brown and Max Roach’s “Joy Spring.” Mariano’s manly yet delicate touch refuses to languish into morose right-handed sweetness, nor does it wallow in angry or testicular left-handed harmonic flaunting. In his exquisite “Short Cut,” both players assemble themselves together into a quite cosmopolitan waltzy sonic entity. This pairing of Brazilian musical strongmen, with harmonic poetry flowing from their minds and into their fingers, lovingly treats the breezy sophistication of Jobim’s “Fotografia.” To think that Duo is just a snapshot of the engaged excellence these two produce together.

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