Super Strings - GSP Recordings
The GSP label [Guitar Solo Productions], based in San Francisco, began recording guitarists in 1989. Their mission is to produce audiophile recordings of world-class guitarists who, for one reason or another, were not signed to a label, yet needed to be heard. Specializing in classical, jazz and Brazilian music, they focus on interesting new music for the guitar, most of which has never been recorded before, including many original works by the individual artists.
After being impressed by two of their recent CDs, I requested some items from the back catalogue, which were widely and highly praised when they first appeared (and justifiably so, as I soon discovered).
This is a splendid solo collection of twelve Brazilian waltzes by the powerhouse player who recently graced vocalist Luciana Souza's Grammy-nominated Brazilian Duos CD. Here, Pereira again demonstrates that the best gentleness comes from strength: while the overall feel of "Valsas Brasilieras" is relaxing and tender, his mastery of the instrument and its harmonic possibilities lifts the music out of the "ear candy" category into something direct and profound. It's an elegant, romantic CD.
Classical Cool: Jazz Currents for Solo Classical Guitar
Bill Kanengiser is a highly-respected guitarist, arranger and founding member of the LA Guitar Quartet, which has produced ten CDs, including the Grammy-nominated LACQ: Latin. This is Kanengiser's third solo CD; his first explicit foray into jazz, it reconfirms that immaculate classical chops are no barrier to swing, especially when accompanied by depth of feeling and impeccable time. Classical Cool is well-paced, varied, and full of artistry and warmth. It blurs the arbitrary lines between classical and jazz.
From the back catalogue:
Romero Lubambo and Weber Drummond
It takes a special kind of empathic musicality for two chordal instruments to share a stage and not get in each other's way. These Two Brazilian expats, both much in demand, go much further, producing music of grace and excitement. Most of the tracks were written by either guitarist Romero Lubambo or pianist Weber Drummond, with a tender "Desafinado" and a swinging "There's No Greater Love" in the mix. Beautiful stuff.
Serenata - Choros and Waltzes of Brazil
Jobim himself wrote the liners to this one, comparing the spirit of this "very beautiful recording" and "very Brazilian happening" to the moonlight serenades by troubadors under the windows of their lady loves. With immaculate chops and deep sensitivity, Bellinati interprets the music of Brazilian legends Baden Powell, Laurinda Almeida, and Dilermando Reis and contributes six of his own beautiful compositions, which fit right in. A dreamy set, lacking only moonlight, windows, and lovers.
Jazz & Country
The distinction between popular and classical guitar is rather blurry in Brazil, as the above CDs will verify. Here's another genre-buster: the versatile Jim Nichols, trailing a long jazz pedigree, combines classics like "My Romance" and "Willow Weep for Me" with masterful pickin' on tunes like "Black Mountain Rag" and "Freightliner Blues." Whether it's nylon or steel, electric or acoustic, the sixteen tracks fit together better than you'd think, given Nichols's masterful technique, time, and feel. A thoroughly enjoyable and unique CD, another GSP gem for guitar aficionados.