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It seems like every jazz artist (and even some pseudo-jazz artists) is destined to record at least one Brasilian music album during their career. Here's singer/songwriter Kenny Rankin's entry into this well-trodden field.
Everything about this disc looks like it should be great. There's a remarkable cast of players from both Americas. From Brasil, we have producer Oscar Castro-Neves, Luis Bonfa, Teo Lima, Gilson Peranzzetta, Ricardo Silveira, and many more. From the U.S., there's Don Grusin, Brian Bromberg, Michael Brecker, and Ernie Watts. Toots Thielemans, who has issued two Brasilian CDs on the same Private Music label, is on hand as well. Then there's the choice of material. There are four Ivan Lins tunes, a Djavan, a Jobim, a Bonfa, and several other Brasilian composers, plus a tune each by Lennon-McCartney and Johnny Mercer-Harold Arlen, and two Rankin originals.
So why is this CD such a disappointment? First, I think maybe this concept has now been worked to death. Oscar Castro-Neves has already produced numerous all-star recordings from this same bag. The arrangements and the performances are uninspired and lifeless. But the major reason this CD is such a disaster is Rankin's vocal performance. He has severe intonation problems throughout the album, singing so flat at times that it's painful. Plus, he seems to be in musical territory that's unfamiliar to him, so he seems to have few ideas about how to interpret and deliver these tunes. I'm sure you can find other releases in Kenny Rankin's discography that display his talents much more favorably, and you can certainly find a plethora of better Brasilian CDs.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.