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Joao Donato: Joao Donato

Douglas Payne By

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This odd cult item, originally released on Muse in 1973, is also known as Donato/Deodato — a reference to then-hot arranger Eumir Deodato's participation and, probably, the similarity in their surnames. With the exception of the kick-off tune - the insanely catchy and wonderfully funky "Whistle Stop" — it's a brief, strange trip that meanders aimlessly and rather too lifelessly.

Even the disc's notes admit as much. The prolific Brazilian keyboardist and arranger, whose many records never make it to the US (making this a follow-up of sorts to Donato's 1970 Blue Thumb release, A Bad Donato ), just wanted some cash so he could travel. He simply arrived at the studio, knocked out some tunes, suggested some musicians, collected his cash and left for vacation. So Deodato, another Brazilian keyboardist and arranger — whose dance-floor hit, "2001," was riding high at the time - was brought in to finish the job.

An 11-piece group was pulled together and features nice spots for Randy Brecker on trumpet (particularly on "Nightripper"), Michael Gibson on trombone, the underrated Dud Bascomb on bass and Romeo Penque on flutes/whistles. Surprisingly, the higher-profile percussionists Ray Barretto and Airto make absolutely no impact here at all.

The idea seems to have been to approximate the grander, more expensive CTI sound. As you might expect, then, Joao Donato has more of Deodato's personality, awash as it is in the latter's signature blend of first-rate funk ("Whistle Stop") and soapy TV movie sound-a-likes ("Where's J.D.?," "Capricorn," "You Can Go").

Even though it's impossible to decide whether Donato or Deodato plays the occasional electric piano solo, the overall effect will appeal to those who gravitate toward electric mood music in somewhat Latin styles. However, "Whistle Stop" - despite whatever deficits in conception - is a true funk essential and a feather in the caps of Donato, Deodato and Ray Barretto.

Tracks:Whistle Stop; Where's J.D.?; Capricorn; Nightripper; You Can Go; Batuque.

Players:Airto: percussion; Ray Barretto: congas; Dud Bascomb: bass; Randy Brecker: trumpet; Deodato, Joao Donato: keyboards; Mauricio Einhorn: harmonica; Michael Gibson: trombone; Romeo Penque: flute and whistle; Bob Rose: guitar; Allan Schwartzberg: drums.

Title: Joao Donato | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: 32 Records


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