This past August, composer/guitarist/vocalist Lenine began his first US tour with solo and band performances in support of this release, his American debut, which pulls together tracks from multiple sets previously released in his homeland.
Can you tell anything from the company that a musician keeps? Seems so: Lenine is often referred to as "Brazil's answer to Prince and his compositions have been performed by such global music legends as Sergio Mendes, Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento; last year, his In Cite album claimed the Best CD, Best Male Vocalist and Best Song awards at Brazil's annual TIM awards, plus two Latin Grammys in the US. And although this eponymous compilation may be Lenine's US debut, his collaborators include some of world's finest Latin, Brazilian and American musicians, with whom he easily keeps pace.
"Rosebud (O Verbo E A Verba) casts him with the stellar Latin-groove ensemble Yerba Buena and the resulting sparks fly from top to bottom, from the top of Rashawn Ross' stratospheric trumpet flight down through the fatback Latin groove thumped deep in funk pocket by drummer Horacio "El Negro Hernández, who Lenine refers to in his notes as "the heartbeat of Afro-Caribbean music.
Lenine notes, "I had the luxurious presence and help from Nana Vasconcelos and his divine percussion on their mysterious duet "Na Pressão. On another duet, "Nem O Sol, Nem A Luna, Nem Eu, Lenine plays the role of acoustic guitar and vocal bluesman while the traditional counterpart of wailing harmonica is assumed by otherworldly sighs and groans blown through conch shells by Steve Turre.
He sits in with progressive funk-rockers Living Color to kick out "The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, reshaping the theme from Roger Corman's early 1960s sci-fi classic into a growling funk workout that pulls and twists together Brazilian and rock guitar rhythms in a knot with a slippery vocal chart which suggests that Lenine has worn out several copies of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City.
If you're searching for that special magic of acoustic Brazilian rhythm guitar, "Hoje Eu Quero Sair Só shows off some of Lenine's best chops, strumming "just so to swing the music forward while creating a relaxed feel by somehow playing from behind the beat, and so does "A Rede.
Personnel: Lenine: guitars; Yerba Buena; Nana Vasconcelos: percussion; Steve Turre: conch shells; Living