Brazil - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 23 - 09/06/98
Paul Winter & Oscar Castro-Neves
The year was 1962. Prior to the historic
Carnegie Hall Bossa Nova concert, that same year, Oscar Castro-Neves
met a young American musician named Paul Winter. An instant kinship,
as Castro-Neves defines it, was formed. Brazil's guitarist-composer
Castro-Neves then reconnected with soprano sax player Winter later in
the 60's. The rest is now history. Castro-Neves and Winter have
collaborated in several projects, such as Paul Winter's
Earthbeat, Missa Gaia, and Canyon, and in Oscar
Castro-Neves's own solo debut Oscar!
Thirty-six years later, these talented
musicians finally come to realize their long-standing dream of a duet
recording. Brazilian Days is the result of such endeavor.
Joining Winter and Castro-Neves, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer
Paulo Braga complete the quartet. The repertoire selection was
carefully chosen to cover Brazilian composers pre-Bossa Nova era,
such as Noel Rosa, to Bossa Nova household names, such as
Vinícius de Moraes, Tom Jobim, Edú Lobo, and Carlos
Lyra. Researching these songs was no easy task, but besides these
artists' involvement with Brazilian music, Winter and Castro-Neves
had the help of Brazilian publisher Almir Chediak's songbook
Brazilian Days then presents us with
excellent performers playing outstanding music. In addition to that,
we are given special appearances by Paul Halley (pipe organ) and
Cássio Duarte (percussion). When Duarte's percussion opens the
first track with Castro-Neves solo, Brazilian Days is very
good. Aula de Matemática (A Mathematics Lesson) is a
bouncy example of a bossa nova tune with clever lyrics (here absent,
unfortunately). The impression one gets from this opening track is
that these musicians are truly enjoying performing this music.
Winter's soprano sax is vibrant and Castro-Neves's guitar
accompaniment is at its best. With Carlos Lyra and Vinícius de
Moraes's Coisa Mais Linda, the mood shifts to a more romantic
tone. It is inevitable not to associate Winter's mellow soprano sax
with saudade, that hard-to-define Brazilian word that conveys
both the sadness and joy of missing loved ones and places.
Unfortunately, the combination of excellent
musicians and outstanding compositions does not equate with success.
Brazilian Days falls into a sameness that is detrimental to
the overall result. The uniformity of the arrangements backfires.
Half way through Brazilian Days, I can no longer distinguish
what song is being played. As a listener, I am left with the
saudade for more sagacity from these musicians and capturing
performances to hold me looking forward to the next track. Of course,
there is always a next project, and I truly hope that Winter and
Castro-Neves rejoin forces in another Brazilian project.
Copyright © 1998 Egídio Leitão