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Album Review

Ricardo Pinheiro with Theo Bleckmann and Mônica Salmaso: Caruma


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Ricardo Pinheiro with Theo Bleckmann and Mônica Salmaso: Caruma
Ricardo Pinheiro is a Portuguese guitarist, composer and educator. He has a dozen previous recordings to his credit and leader or co-leader status on the majority of those projects. His music has covered ambient, electronic, bop, jazz standards, and jazz/poetry hybrids. Pinheiro, a Berklee alumnus, has recorded and played with Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, Chris Cheek, Jon Irabagon and Tim Hagans, among others. Caruma is a new direction for Pinheiro.

Pinheiro is joined by two vocalists, Theo Bleckmann and Brazilian Monica Salmaso. The German-American Bleckmann is a Grammy Award nominee, well known for his sound improvisations. He has worked in film, television, and theater and appeared on more than two-dozen recordings, including those of John Hollenbeck and The Claudia Quintet. Salmaso has recorded a dozen albums, mostly in the Brazilian market, and often in the samba vein. Her jazz credentials include recordings with countryman Nana Vasconcelos and with bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding.

Pinheiro describes the primary concept on Caruma as a melding of melodic guitar, improvisation, and "ambient moods." The description is validated with the opening track, "Gratitude." Bleckmann's wordless vocal begins as a drone then gradually adds greater definition. In an austere setting, Pinheiro gives us a spacious sound. Salmaso first joins in mid-way through the second track, "Cancao de Embalar A Isabel." Singing in her native Portuguese, the quiet ballad is lifted by her warm, halcyon quality. All is not tranquil on Caruma. "Mar Picado" is a raucous free improvisation; Bleckmann and Pinheiro match each other in reaching for the limits. In the closing piece, "Resina," Pinheiro and Salmaso employ loops to create an eerily melodic soundscape.

Neither Bleckmann nor Pinheiro has defined the body of their respective works by a conventional approach. On Caruma, Bleckmann frequently provides an uneasy serenity complemented by the guitarist's subtle shadings. Salmaso's tracks (the two vocalists alternate their appearances) are grounded by comparison, but the improvisations are simply more nuanced. Caruma is a collection which reveals its intriguing workings over multiple, and rewarding, listens.

Track Listing

Gratitude; Cancao de Embalar A Isabel; Mar Picado; Quando Nao Estiveres Aqui; Ausencia; Caruma; Sesta; Resina.


Ricardo Pinheiro: guitar, electric; Theo Bleckmann: voice / vocals; Monica Salmaso: voice / vocals.

Additional Instrumentation

Ricardo Pinheiro: effects, loops; Theo Bleckmann: effects, loops; Mônica Salmaso: effects.

Album information

Title: Caruma | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music

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