For Torben Westergaard, sooner or later all roads lead back to Brazil. The special flavor of South American jazz shaped his life from an early age, and has stayed a recurring staple in his music from his debut Brazilian Heart (Self Produced, 1996) through the Tangofied (Gateway) series of 2013-17. If it's taken him a while to circle back to this favorite milieu again, that's because he has been roaming a long way in the meantime, from home base Denmark to South Korea and far beyond.
Still, the warm bounce of "Summer Song" slides back into that comfort zone as easily as settling into a hammock on the beach. The central quartet is a group of longtime friends who are as comfortable with each other as with Westergaard's amiable tunes. As much as he and they relish the challenging technicality of Latin jazz, the resulting pieces are no less warm and reassuringly familiar. Jazz Brazil makes its namesake feel right next door and as inviting as a neighborhood cookout.
As usual, the leader is frequently happy to eschew the spotlight and let his songs do the talking. Hans Ulrik's sax and Helio Alves' piano are as sunny as the pieces deserve. In their hands, the melodic leads make the seven-metered "Seven" flow as smoothly as the slow breather "Bli' Min," or as effortlessly as the dashing romps of "Frevo" and "Samba Optimista" (a title that probably defines Westergaard's musical personality as well as a single phrase can). Long may the happy travels continue.
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