An agreeably smooth, easy going album that's difficult to dislike
Jon Lusk 2008-10-21
This Rio-based jazz/funk/samba trio have been around since the early 70s and started recording for London's Far Out label two decades later. Butterfly is their latest new material for the label – an agreeably smooth, easy going album that's difficult to dislike, but equally, unless you're a hardcore fan, hard to get hugely excited about, by its very laid back nature.
They call what they do samba doido ('crazy samba') but the samba only really manifests itself surfaces occasionally, with the odd twinge of cuica (friction drum), or as on the extraordinary mid-tune percussion breakdown that busts through the veneer of cruisy jazz funk on Avenida Rio Branco.
The core members Jose Roberto Bertrami (keyboards) Alex Malheiros (bass, acoustic guitar) and drummer Ivan Conti are joined by several excellent guests, most notably flautist/saxophonist Ze Carlos and Arthur Verocai, whose guitar solo on New Dawn seems to have been relocated from the Steely Dan songbook. Vocals are pared right down to the occasional scat, as on the breezy Meu Doce Amigo and the chorus of Os Cara La – ''Os Cara La'' chanted over and over in pleasingly dippy fashion.
Bertrami drizzles tasty liquid honey solos from his Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ, especially sweet on New Dawn, while Conti simply dazzles on the frisky, polyrhythic Triagem, on which it would be easy to imagine Tania Maria as a guest vocalist. And Malheiros is one seriously funky bass player. The sparingly used string section give Herbie Hancock's title track a wonderfully spacey lightness that recalls Chris Bowden's Time Capsule album, and the Hancock influence reappears in the grainy, business-like synth
sounds of Hole In One.
What sounds like a reco-reco (guiro) makes a weird gasping effect on both Butterfly and Next Summer In Rio, effectively book ending the album. Okay, so the latter treads a fine line between carefree strolling and pedestrian predictability. This may well be music for airport waiting lounges or perhaps the moving staircases of vacuous tropical shopping malls. But if you insist on going to such places, why not do it in style?