Twice as Good
With his first two albums — Meia-Noite, Meio-Dia (2003) and Chico Pinheiro (2005) — Chico Pinheiro had already pretty much convinced me of his artistic abilities as a guitarist and composer. The right choice of music and skillful arrangements led to solid releases. So, after a two-year absence, Chico Pinheiro has released a brand new album. As with his previous CDs, this one also surprised me. He could have pursued the same formula as he did with the first two CDs. Nothing boring there at all. Instead, he chose to shake everyone’s expectations with a duo album with guitarist Anthony Wilson. We knew of Chico’s affinity with U.S. jazz as he claims Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery as two of his influences. Those connections are more present in Nova. Alternating between acoustic and electric guitars, these two artists hold nothing back in this excellent new album.
The repertoire is clearly more daring, but a few things have not changed. The first to mention is the careful music selection. There is a good balance of originals — four original tracks from each guitarist — plus others penned by Wayne Shorter, João Donato and Dorival Caymmi. Another constant in the album is the presence of some very special guests. This time the guests include Dori Caymmi, Nailor Proveta, Ivan Lins and Cesar Camargo Mariano. Add to those Armando Marçal (percussion), Fabio Torres (Fender rhodes), Edu Ribeiro (drums), Paulo Paulelli (acoustic bass) and several others to complete a full ensemble of artistic excellence.
The João Donato opener, “Café com Pão,” is more captivating than ever here. I thought that a Donato song without the piano would be a difficult challenge. Far from it! The guitarists breeze through this swinging number with great ease and competence. Fabio’s Rhodes mid-solo adds just the right touch in Chico’s arrangement of this piece. The other Brazilian classic featured in the album, “Requebre Que Eu Dou um Doce,” is another gorgeous arrangement. This up-tempo samba was arranged by Chico and Anthony (brass) and features Dori Caymmi on vocals and Cesar Camargo Mariano on piano. The addition of a brass sextet adds fire to this number. Besides being an accomplished guitarist, Anthony Wilson shows his brass arranging skills throughout the album with great colors. The only other non-original piece in this collection is Wayne Shorter’s “When You Dream.” It is amazing to hear how much this piece fits so well in a Brazilian collection. It is like listening to Milton Nascimento or any other Clube da Esquina standard. Of course, the seven-voice feminine chorus is a good choice to back Ivan Lins’ soft vocals in this track.
Of the original tracks, do not expect to figure out off hand which track is Chico’s and which one is Anthony’s or who’s playing the acoustic or electric guitars. The interplay between each artist is remarkable and magic. It is also hard to isolate the best piece here. “Tempestade” shines with Daniel D’Alcântara’s flugelhorn solo. “Laranjeiras” is peaceful and serene. It took me back to an afternoon stroll in Rio’s lush Botanical Gardens. It is nice to hear these two guitarists accompanied only by Fabio, Paulo and Edu in this track. Their support is solid, contained and just right. “Cuba” is all Caribbean with its percussion and brass presence. The electric guitar duo in “Two Fives” is smooth and dreamy. However, for real die-hard guitar fans, you must lose yourself in “Planície” and the closing number, “Alla Chitarra.” These guys make a good thing even better with Swami Jr.’s seven-string guitar added in these all-guitar pieces.
Chico Pinheiro & Anthony Wilson
Buriti BR001 (2007)
- Café com Pão (João Donato – Lysias Ênio)
- Tempestade (Chico Pinheiro – Chico César)
- Laranjeiras (Anthony Wilson)
- Cuba (Chico Pinheiro)
- Planície (Chico Pinheiro)
- When You Dream (Wayne Shorter) – w/ Ivan Lins
- Easter Monday (Anthony Wilson)
- Nova (Chico Pinheiro) – w/ Cesar Camargo Mariano
- Two Fives (Anthony Wilson)
- Requebre Que Eu Dou um Doce (Dorival Caymmi) – w/ Dori Caymmi & Cesar Camargo Mariano
- Alla Chitarra (Anthony Wilson)