John Stein,
In Brazil: Concerto International de Jazz
(Whaling City, 2006)

The first cut on this disc, "Happy Hour," is a joyous tinkle of the soul. Stepping into the album through this light and happening beat is an awesome listening experience. It's a six-minute march that just warms you up for more. The CD takes a quick twist, though, and the next thing John Stein churns up is moody and dark "Lonely Street," which is beautiful like a moonless night with cool fingers of a night breeze at your neck.

The third track, "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes," is as rich as a walnut in its shell, tight and rough on the outside and full of wrinkles inside so that with every bite a different flavor emerges. "It's About Life" draws its breath from deep beneath the bass of the team but brings it up on high through the horn section.

That concise piece flows into a melodic clash of conversation with "Marta," and the energy of this one makes the listener feel like he's constantly trying to keep up. Shoulder rolls and rib twists are inevitable because the music draws you in and makes you chase it.

These five are followed by four more musical journeys to lose yourself in. The acuity of the music is instantly notable and lasts for the whole CD. Totally impressive is the way seven musicians lean out to grasp air and return it wrung into a tight belt of beautiful sound with no loose or dangling threads.

The liner notes explain a little more of what's happening with phrases like "...but it's bossa nova in a triple meter!" John Stein, on guitar, is the headliner on the CD. The musicians who join him to help create this gorgeous music are Frank Herzberg (bass), Ze Eduardo Nazario (drums), Alexandre Zamith (piano), Bocato (trombone), Teco Cardoso ( flute and bass flute) and Pedro Ito (percussion). Their music, recorded in Brazil in 2005, is a winning combination.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Virginia MacIsaac

25 October 2008

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