Brazilian/American guitarist Tony Do Rosario delivers an energetic and engaging performance with his sophomore album New Beginnings
. The album features Do Rosario alongside some of Chicago's top musicians: saxophonist Geof Bradfield, bassist Nathan Kawaller and drummer Greg Wyser-Pratte. The four musicians come together to produce an album of original modern jazz that is mentally engaging and possesses broad appeal.
After spending years honing his chops in jazz clubs on both coasts, the now Chicago-based Do Rosario is focusing his creative energy on increasing his recorded output. Not content to rest on his heels, Do Rosario has released New Beginnings only a few short months after his highly acclaimed debut album The Welcoming (Dreambox Media, 2008). With a whole new ensemble and a book of new material, Do Rosario showcases the versatility of his playing and writing.
All of the compositions were written by Do Rosario, and each track brings to light his varied background as a musician. Leading off with the title track, which is very reminiscent of '70s-style ECM, "On This Day" follows as a hard-driving bossa nova that can be directly traced to Do Rosario's ethnic heritage. Do Rosario also enters the funk-jazz realm with "Don't Get Fresh With Me," and tips his hat to the pop world with the Andy Summers-esque "K." This diversity of influences only helps to strengthen the appeal of New Beginnings, as each new tune occupies a different corner of the modern jazz world.
Apart from being a skilled composer and arranger, Do Rosario is also a top-notch improviser. His solo on "First Hint of Autumn," which is played over an overdubbed acoustic guitar backing track, is a great example of Do Rosario's melodic, yet intellectual, approach to improvising. The solo is short and to the point, as are many of his improvisations, and contains contrasting phrases of melodic motives and fast, intricate lines in the style of Adam Rogers or Kurt Rosenwinkel. Do Rosario's ability to mix the technical and emotional sides of his playing is one of his strongest suits and one that he plays off of very well throughout the album.
Far from being simply a vehicle to show off Do Rosario's improvisational technique, the disc comes together because of the total effort from the band as a whole. The ability of the musicians to solo and bring their own voice to each tune only acts to contrast the moments when the group dynamic is so tight that it feels as if they are a single instrument.
New Beginnings is a strong sophomore album for Do Rosario and his new quartet. With a seamlessly never-ending supply of creativity at his fingertips, Do Rosario should be a leading voice on the Chicago jazz scene for some time to come.
Personnel: Tony Do Rosario: electric and acoustic guitar;s Geof Bradfield: tenor saxophone; Nathan Kawaller: acoustic bass; Greg Wyser-Pratte: drums.