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Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini: Setting Rays of Summer (Cressman Music)

A review of the duo album from the trombonist/vocalist and guitarist/vocalist

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Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini, Setting Rays of Summer
The cover of Setting Rays of Summer by Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini

Some albums arrive without precedent, a world unto themselves. While bringing to mind the sophisticated, jazz-infused post-Tropicalia songs of Brazilian composers like Guinga, Milton Nascimento, and Marcos Valle, Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini’s unusual duo album Setting Rays of Summer sounds as fresh and revivifying as a clear mountain stream.

A guitarist, vocalist, and composer born in Brasilia and raised since childhood in Berkeley, Calif., Faquini is responsible for the voluptuously shaped compositions and lithe but orchestral guitar work. He also possesses a pleasingly reedy voice that blends artfully with Cressman’s bright, translucent singing. She’s a top-shelf trombonist who’s worked with such diverse artists as Peter Apfelbaum and Phish’s Trey Anastasio, and is utterly at home in MPB (musica popular brasileira), the omnivorous Brazilian movement that emerged out of bossa nova and Tropicalia at the end of the 1960s.

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Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert is a Berkeley-based freelancer who has written about arts and culture since 1989 for numerous publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, East Bay Express, Berkeleyside, and KQED’s California Report. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he experienced a series of mind-blowing epiphanies listening to jazz masters at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in the late 1980s, performances he remembers more vividly than the gigs he saw last month.