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Brazilian music is tricky. It must be approached carefully as its mellow understatement can be vulnerable to sterility in production and blandness in execution. Brasil, by Israeli guitarist Yotam Silberstein (now known solely as "Yotam") is plagued by both attributes.
It is quite difficult to appreciate the competency of the players with whom Yotam has surrounded himself for this outing, as both the playing and engineering carry a certain lack of character and color. Too smooth throughout, it truly is a matter of tone. The repertoire and overall sound combine for a very mild, milquetoast record suitable, at best, as unassuming background music.
Yotam pulls his repertoire from a who's who of Brazilian composition, including Chico Buarque, Dorival Caymm, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Edu Lobo and Carlos Lyra. Jobim/Buarque's "Eu te Amo (And I Love Her)" is most engaging piece in the set, its diminished tempo relaxing the pace to the point where the guitarist cannot simply run scales; instead, he plays some very tender, lovely passages which preface an equally gentle flugelhorn solo. Yotam includes one original composition midway through the program, a lullaby appropriately titled, "Nocturne." As a bromide, it works.
With Brasil, 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.
Track Listing: 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).
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.