Jan 13 2016

João Gaspar: Rota Alternativa

Having fun again

Rota AlternativaTime flies when you’re having fun! Can’t believe there are no less than eight years between the releases of guitarist João Gaspar’s first two albums! After all these years Camaleão Carioca (2007) is still a frequent guest in my CD player; an amazingly beautiful and, as it seems now, timeless album. Now there’s finally a follow up for the album. Its title Rota Alternativa (Alternative Route) is well chosen. João Gaspar (Rio de Janeiro, 1976) takes a slightly different direction on this CD; a bit heavier on the beat, jazzier.

The music was recorded live in the studio (by the great Carlos Fuchs), which creates a sound that seems free from re-arrangements, loose.
After the successful release of Camaleão Carioca, João worked with some of Brazil’s greatest performers. He went on tour with Simone, Maria Bethânia and Ivan Lins. A well-deserved recognition for the guitarist. These names now shine on his curriculum along with the one’s of Guinga, Ney Matogrosso, Milton Nascimento, Zélia Duncan and Léo Gandelman (to name just a few).

All songs on Rota Alternativa are composed and arranged by João Gaspar. That means that the themes are dowsed with Brazilian tradition. The working out of the themes gives away João’s interest in jazz. His flawless technique allows him to play with the melody lines in endless variations. His solos build up to a climax in the best jazz tradition. The accompanying musicians get a chance to add their marks on the music as well. Especially the drummers didn’t forget to take that opportunity. Xande Figueiredo (Rio, 1967; worked with stars like Johnny Alf, Simone, Emílio Santiago, Cazuza,…), Cássio Cunha (Recife; worked with Alceu Valença, Moraes Moreira, João Donato,…) and Christiano Galvão (Rio, 1971; worked with Simone, Zélia Duncan, Beth Carvalho,…) all have a strong presence on the record. They push the featured instrumentalists to the climax of their solo. The line-up of the musicians changes frequently. The repertoire has everything between jazz rock (“Navegantes”) and choro (“Seu Francisco” with Gaspar on the mandolin). João GasparThere’s beautiful acoustic guitar work, “Espera,” in a trio setting (bass, drums) and the solo piece “Esperança” that closes the album. On “Em Boa Companhia,” Marcelo Martins is featured on the soprano sax. And the sunny “Vida Nova” has the guitarist on the crystal clear sounding steel-string acoustic guitar. On the four remaining tracks Gaspar plays the electric guitar. Among the other instrumentalists we find pianist David Felman and keyboardist Renato Fonseca, bassists André Vasconcelos, Bruno Aguilar and Ney Conceição and percussionist Marco Lobo. Gaspar’s wife, the wonderful Letícia Carvalho, makes a special appearance on “Novo Horizonte.”

Again João Gaspar delivers a great piece of work. The recording is beautiful, the music has a pleasant variation, the craftsmanship is outstanding. So here it is: again, an interesting piece of work that will last for a long time, although I hope the next album will be out earlier than in 2023…

You can visit the guitarist/composer on his website.



João Gaspar
Rota Alternativa
Independent (2015)
Time: 55’22”

Tracks (all compositions by João Gaspar)

  1. Rota Alternativa
  2. Em Boa Companhia – w/ Marcelo Martins
  3. Seu Francisco
  4. Navegantes
  5. Vida Nova
  6. Respirando Fundo
  7. Novo Horizonte
  8. Espera
  9. Esperança