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Leo Gandelman: Black Pearls

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Among the plethora of excellent saxophonists active in contemporary jazz today, Brasilian Leo Gandelman gets my vote for "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition." Performing primarily on tenor with occasional soprano, he offers a best-of-both-worlds combination of contemporary and traditional Brasilian rhythms and American contemporary jazz. For this program, he draws from a wealth of Brasilian composers including Milton Nascimento ("Clube da Esquina No. 2"), Djavan ("Faltando um Pedaco"), and Gilberto Gil ("Toda Menina Baiana'), plus some lesser-known but talented sources.

Most of it is upbeat and funky, yet tasteful. "Mr. Funk Samba," which is just that, sizzles and grooves with it's cooking horn section lines. Gandelman is elegant and expressive on Stevie Wonder's ballad "Overjoyed" and Djavan's "Faltando." The next-to-last cut finds Gandelman swinging gently with strings. The album closes with "Perola Negra (Black Pearl)," a jazzy piece performed solely by Gandelman multi-tracked into a saxophone choir, with the baritone sax carrying the bass line, the soprano carrying the lead, and several altos and tenors providing excellent support.

The entire program is consistently enjoyable. Check it out!

Record Label: Mercury Records

Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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