There is a consensus about bossa nova music being first introduced to a universal audience through the world premier of the 1959 film “Orpheu Negro,” making the genre turn 50 years old in 2009. To celebrate bossa nova’s 50th Anniversary, saxophonist/flutist Robert Kyle has made Bossalicious, a collective of original tunes penned by him in addition to covering a handful of songs written by such vital practitioners of bossa nova music as: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ary Barroso, Dori Caymmi, Edu Lobo, Guinga, Eden Abbez, and many others. Bossalicious is Kyle’s 7th release as a leader and shows his visceral attachment to hypnotic Brazilian rhythms and his leanings toward mellifluous harmonies.
Accompanying Kyle on the recording is Brazil’s Roberto Montero on acoustic guitar and Cristiano Novelli on percussions along with American percussionist Ami Molinelli, bassist Hussein Jiffry, whistler/piper Matt Johnson, and vocalist Carol Bach-y-Rita. The album is dedicated to Phil Sobel who passed away in 2008 and is cited as a teacher, mentor and friend to Robert Kyle. In Sobel’s memory, Kyle has made every track sound like it is smiling using harmonic forms that showcase the pleasantries of bossa nova’s smooth instrumentation and hip-swaying mobility. The songs are relaxing and move with the tender touch of a gentle-soul making the musical threads sound like they are woven by Latin cherubs on a mission to inflict happiness, which is ardently painted in the soft saxophone musings of “Carolina” pushed up by the coasting time signature of the number.
Bossalicious maintains a tranquil vibe with emulsifying riffs and breezy trance-like atmospherics in “Pra Machucar Meu Coração” reinforced by the lumber swivels of the saxophone in “Favela.” The movements of the instruments are honed into lyrical forms allowing the songs to play out a series of stories that the composer wishes to share, which is suggestive in the elegant piping of the saxophone in “Ave Rara” while fringed by Montero’s vocals as he roams freely across the plush melodic planes. Kyle’s translations move with an affection that resembles the emotions felt by the human heart as he individualizes the chord successions while displaying the many shades of bossa nova’s coda from Johnson’s native-tinged whistler in “Inspiração” to Kyle’s celestial lifts with the flute in “The Last Goodbye.” The band also dabbles in other facets of bossa nova’s dynamics moving from the rumba sway of “Bolero de Satã” to the sultry strut of “Nature Boy” and the salsa shimmies of “A`Felicidade,” thus covering a well-rounded circuit.
Bossalicious is a retrospective of some of bossa nova’s finest pieces, in addition to being a viable platform for Robert Kyle’s artistry and keen perception for crafting silky, smooth instrumentation. In the recording, he demonstrates his ability to move the songs in ways that optimize the pleasant qualities of bossa nova’s harmonies and enchanting Brazilian rhythms. Kyle shows that bossa nova music reflects a way of life that is obtainable, and encourages simplicity in the daily routine of living. It seems to be the secret to bossa nova’s longevity which is still celebrated and desired 50 years after its inception into the world market.