Dual guitars is the theme of Nova, by Chico Pinheiro and Anthony Wilson. The musicians and their album represent the merging of cultures: American and Brazilian.
Wilson, a New Yorker, is a Grammy-nominated guitarist who has recorded six solo albums since 1997. Among them is Power of Nine (Groove Note, 2006), which was in The New Yorker's roundup of the Top 10 jazz recordings of that year. Pinheiro, a native of São Paulo, has earned several honors as well. His first album, Meia Noite Meio Dia (Sony, 2003), was among the Top 10 Brazilian albums of the year in three major newspapers: O Estado de São Paulo, A Folha de São Paulo and O Globo. Collectively, the two have partnered with such notables as Larry Goldings, Chris Botti, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Rosa Passos, Chris Potter, Eddie Gomez and Duduka da Fonseca.
Nova is the two guitarists' presentation of jazz meets Brazil, mixing in some original songs as well as covers of compositions by Wayne Shorter, João Donato and Dorival Caymmi.
"Tempestade" features Pinheiro on acoustic and electric guitars, with Wilson on electric guitar. Co-written by Pinheiro and Chico César, this charming piece is as much about the group as it is the two leaders. Daniel D'Alcantara shares the melody on flugelhorn. Marcelo Mariano's electric bass and Edu Ribeiro's drums add some effective punch. Pianist Fabio Torres contributes as well.
More horns are involved in "Cuba," another Pinheiro original. D'Alcantara doubles on trumpet and flugelhorn, and he solos. Nailor Proveta plays alto sax and has a clarinet solo. Vinicius Dorin plays flute, and tenor and baritone saxophones. Paulo Manheiros adds a trumpet, and Gilbert Castellanos has the closing trumpet solo. Wilson sits this one out, and Pinheiro is only a supporting artist on electric guitar. The piano, bass and horns carry most of the weight. Ribeiro and percussionist Armando Marcal engage in a lively call and response, first with Torres and then with the horns.
A large ensemble is also used on Shorter's "When You Dream." Ribeiro's cymbals are crisp, and his mixing in the toms adds a nice touch. A chorus of background vocalists gives the song an ethereal flavor, with guest Ivan Lins singing lead. The guitars help end the track with a flourish, underscored by the voices. The piano and bass ad lib on the fade.
Too often, people not familiar with jazz will use the word "relaxing" to categorize what they hear. In jazz circles, the word can be considered an insult. However, it accurately describes Nova. But don't be fooled. This album is neither boring nor sleep-inducing. Instead, its calmness adds to its beautyeven on some of the faster-paced selections.