"This is something I've wanted to do for a long time, said Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo about Softly
during a recent Blue Note gig with Trio da Paz. This project is a "collection of romantic songs that explore the various sonic textures of different guitars.
On the disc, Lubambo plays all the guitars himself, including a Spanish acoustic (which he seems to favor live), an electric solid-body, a Yamaha synthesizer and also a cavaquinho, the Brazilian instrument commonly used in sambas and chorinho.
The song choices reflect the album's title. Lubambo opens with Ivan Lins' "Vitoriosa (Victorious) and includes tunes like Sammy Cahn/ Jule Styne's "I Fall In Love Too Easily and Pixinguinha's "Ingenuo paired with original tunes, most of them co-written with his wife, Pamela Driggs. Listeners used to Lubambo's incredible speed will not find that here, as the nature of the tunes is not suited for virtuosic displays. Instead, Softly is a showcase for amazing creativity; Lubambo often plays two melody tracks and each sound is clear, even when he mixes as many as five different instruments into one song.
One of the album's highlights is the lovely "Pamela Elaine, which Lubambo plays solely on his Casa Gonzales classical. Borrowing from his classical influences, he masterfully explores the instrument's fret-board in a succession of chords and slow arpeggios. On Jobim's "Happy Madness, he plays with the same guitar, adding a rhythm track with the Yamaha hollow-body electric for texture.
Other memorable moments include "Vieste (You Have Come), the CD's second Ivan Lins composition, where he solos with the acoustic, adding subtle effects and sounds from the synthesized guitar; the original "Fly So High, with a rural Brazilian feel rarely heard on a jazz record (possibly inspired by the work of Egberto Gismonti); and his personal touch on the Sinatra hit "In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning, a refreshing take on a tune that has been recorded quite often.
Softly is one of the best Brazilian jazz records released recentlya document of an artist who is one of the great jazz guitar heroes of his time.
Personnel: Romero Lubambo: guitar.