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While serving for more than twenty years as a musical director for television station WTAE in Pittsburgh, guitarist Joe Negri has written and performed for a variety of situations. He's equally at home with the jazz standard as he is with this collection of Brazilian music. The Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, having sponsored live jazz in Pittsburgh for eleven years, produces recordings (the MCG Jazz label) whose proceeds benefit Jazz Education with a focus on high school after-hours exposure.
Influenced by Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt, Negri began studying guitar as a young teenager and had his first professional gig at age sixteen. In 1967 the guitarist began working with Fred Rogers on the educational television series "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," where he continues to appear as "Handyman Negri." Together, Rogers and Negri introduce children around the world to the joys of music. Brothers Jay and Marty Ashby produced the album and appear on it, supplying rhythm guitar, trombone, vocal effects, and more. Negri, who teaches guitar at Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh, performs Joao Donato's "Minha Saudade" alone, exhibiting the technique he espouses and the kinds of rudiments he'd like to impart to students. Kim Nazarian, who is a member of New York Voices, sings four of the selections on this 41-minute program.
The beginning of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" is presented rubatowithout rhythmas much of Negri's effective work for "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" has been presented over the years. The guitarist then launches into a driving bossa, which floats the familiar melody across the room. Tom Jobim's "Modinha" and "O Grande Amor" present two opposing sides from the composer's body of work. The lyrical ballad "Modinha" is sung delicately by Nazarian, while "O Grande Amor" exudes a celebration of life and love. Like Claudio Roditi's "Red on Red," most of the album is spirited Rio dance music with lively accompaniment from Marty Ashby's guitar, Dwayne Dolphin's acoustic bass, and Duduka DaFonseca's drum set. It's happy Brazilian jazz that everyone is sure to enjoy.
Track Listing: O Grande Amor; Leva E Traz; Modinha; Red on Red; Minha Saudade; The Island; J.P. Choro; Never Before; Lush Life.
Personnel: Joe Negri- guitar; Kim Nazarian- vocals; Duduka DaFonseca- drums; Marty Ashby- guitar; Dwayne Dolphin- acoustic bass; Jay Ashby- vocal on "Leva E Traz," trombone on "Red on Red," whistling on "J.P. Choro," keyboards, percussion.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.