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Like many of you, the name of guitarist Freddie Bryant was certainly a new one to me. My only previous encounter with his work was on a Steve Wilson Criss Cross date of several years ago and that in no way prepared me for the kind of mature and stylish presentation that awaited on Boogaloo Brasileiro. A heady mix of formidable jazz and Brazilian-inflected rhythms, the guitarist's septet breezes its way through four Bryant originals and four preferred standards.
A unchanging fascination for cultured music lovers and now a hit with the Japanese and European crowds, Brazilian music has once again become a modern stimulus. Yet, not content to merely indulge in covers of well-known themes, Bryant has sagaciously chosen the medium as a jumping-off point for what is his own decidedly jazz-inflected work. Over the course of the eight tracks heard here, Bryant works almost exclusively on hollow-body acoustic guitar, save for the title track, where he gets out his electric Gibson 150.
Opening with almost the hint of a whisper, it's a confident and daring solo performance of Jobim's "Por Toda Minha Vida" that leads into the groovy title track, a wonderful concoction with a boogaloo beat and an ingenious turnaround marked by a trilled figure from saxophonists Chris Cheek and Steve Wilson. Up next is "Passage," which is arguably the centerpiece of the entire album. Based on the Brazilian rhythmic groove, the baion, Cheek's soprano sax and Wilson's flute create a temperate mood that is bolstered by Gilad's shimmering percussion.
Bryant's other two compositions, "Alone" and "Eyes Across the Ocean," offer more varied moods with just a hint of tropicalia. Then, he rounds things out by giving a facelift to the standards "You Don't Know What Love Is," "Peace," and "Solar." This is Bryant's third release to date as a leader and just the diversity suggested by this recital alone marks the guitarist as someone to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Track Listing: Por Toda Minha Vida, Boogaloo Brasileiro, Passages, You Don't Know What Love Is, Alone, Eyes Across the Ocean, Peace, Solar (54:55)