Two reviews of Israeli-born guitarist Yotam's Brasil appeared recently in All About Jazz, and the reviewers had major differences.
Lawrence Peryer had a negative view, summed up by: "Yotam take his place on the list between Yanni and Zamfir, offering a denatured version of a musical form that has already proven itself accessible enough in more sophisticated hands," while Dan Bilawsky had a more positive view: "While guitarist Yotam Silberstein was born more than six thousand miles from Ipanema Beach, he displays the understanding, insight and sensitivity of a man who was born and bred in the land of Jobim."
Had both these writers seen the same filmor, to the point, had they heard the same record?
Both opinions can be appreciated. Samba and bossa nova music initially featured acoustic guitar, such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Dori Caymmi. In Yotam's CD, he plays amplified guitar, and brings in various Brazilian soloists, including percussionist Vaderlei Pereira, pianist David Feldman and, particularly important to this session, acoustic guitarist Toninho Horta.
Mainstream stars trumpeter Roy Hargrove, flutist Sharel Cassity and clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera also take part, and If these disparate players could despoil Brazilian music's wellspring, it could be countered that it would just as well add spice.
Yotam's amplified guitar in tandem with Horta's acoustic is a big strength of this recording, as on the profoundly beautiful Yotam original, "Nocturno," which sets Horta trilling against Yotam's amplified melody. Later on Caymmi's "Samba da Minha Terra," the two have a ball, Horta strumming, Yotam throwing out single notes.
Others shine also. On Jobim's "Falando de Amour," Hargrove (on flugelhorn) and Cassity flow smoothly into a stream of guitar, while Pereira shows off his percussion talents in Jobim/Buarque's catchy favorite, "Eu te Amo," behind Rivera's swirling clarinet.
Regardless of how authentically Brazilian the arrangements are, Brasil is a certified listening pleasure.
Influencia do Jazz (Influence of Jazz); Doce De Coco (Sweet Coconut); Falando de Amor (Words of Love); Saudade Da Bahia (Missing Bahia); Antigua; Nocturno; Piano Na Mangueira; Eu te Amo (And I Love Her); O Barquinho (My Little Boat); Pra Dizer Adeus (To Say Goodbye); Samba da Minha Terra (Samba of My Country).