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Rique Pantoja: Live In Los Angeles

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Rique Pantoja: Live In Los Angeles
Live in Los Angeles was first released in 2001 and this is a remastering and reissue. It says something good about the compositions and the players that the material remains vital, fresh and bright. There is something about Brazilian music that just ages well, which seemingly accounts for its perennial popularity. You can call it what you want: "smooth jazz," "fusion," "samba pop," "Afro-Latino." The labels hardly matter. Music that makes one feel alive and vibrant, that recharges one's mood (which, Lord knows, is quite an accomplishment in these times) and brightens everything around it. There are far worse things to be said about a recording, and far less profitable ways to spend one's listening time. Again, looking for novelty is not the point. It will not be found here. Yet if you are looking for a fresh sea breeze through the window when the ocean is nowhere near, you have come to the right place. And as a bonus, the music is live, an artefact of the first time Rique Pantoja performed live in the United States.

Rique Pantoja is Brazilian by birth, but he has been established in Los Angeles for many years. He has gotten around, playing with Chet Baker, Carlos Santana, Lee Ritenour, Gloria Estefan and even Christopher Parkening. He is a composer, arranger, producer, singer, songwriter, and not least, keyboardist, with Berklee College of Music and Charlie Banacos behind him. Like any working musician, he has a variety of commercial gigs to his credit, so you may have heard his music, even if, so to speak, you have not.

This set is nothing if not enjoyable. "Arpoador" evokes a peninsula between Ipanema and Copacabana in Rio, with multiple meters suggesting cross currents washing across the bay, and features a relaxed, cruising guitar solo by Ricardo Silveira. "Julinho" is a plaintive ballad with Steve Tavaglione stating the theme on saxophone with accompaniment on bass guitar by Jimmy Earl, better known as a member of US television show Jimmy Kimmel Live!'s house band. A double-time segment makes for a nice contrast. "1000 Watts," as in Ernie Watts, who represents another stop in Pantoja's musical journey. Saxophonist and flautist Tavaglione has extensive experience in Latin jazz groups and shows it off to advantage here. From Bahia, in Northeast Brazil, there is the tasty flute and guitar feature "Da Baiana," which moves nicely indeed. "Bebop Kid" is dedicated to Pantoja's son and has nothing to do with "El Be Bop" kid, aka Freddy Fender. It is another bright flute and guitar feature, with a bass solo that somehow distantly rings in the ear like Charlie Parker's "Confirmation." "Que Locura," "Morena" and "Pra Lili" feature more explorations of Brazilian themes in various meters and genres.

Pantoja's music is deceptively simple, but the more one listens, the more one hears. Live in Los Angeles can be taken on several levels, from just impressionistic to the resolutely analytical. That is part of the charm and interest of this very good re-entrant from the past.

Track Listing

Arpoador; Julinho; 1000 Watts; Da Baiana; Bebop Kid; Que Loucura; Morena; Pra Lili.

Personnel

Rique Pantoja: keyboards; Steve Tavaglione: woodwinds; Jimmy Earl: bass; Joel Taylor: drums; Ricardo Silveira: guitar; Cassio Duarte: percussion.

Album information

Title: Live In Los Angeles | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Moondo

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