When I first got this CD, I noted Phill's surname and wondered "Fest? Could he be related to the great Manfredo Fest?", and, yep, he's Manfredo's son, so you can already guess what you're in for with this fresh and refreshing collection of samba-jazz songs sparklingly played not only by Phill but a highly capable backing band as well. Though I've always dug Latinate jazz sounds, what really knocked me for a loop was Steve Khan's hybridization in Where's Mumphrey? in '81 and then his every CD following that. Just amazing, and my hunger for really hip SouthAm musics only increased, especially when it comes to innovators. Phill Fest is one of those, as lyrical in the mode as Gábor Szabó, Louis Kabok, Charlie Byrd, and others were in their primes.
I tried separating out one or the other band members for special mention, but, each time I did, the others came up with just as good work. Drummer-percussionist Ronie Martinez, pianist Robert Prester, and bassist Russ Howard are completely caught up in the music: zesty, tight, clean, and brimming over with melodic chops. The noted Henrik Muerkens adds in his famously mournful harmonica as well, but it's Fest's nylon-strung guitar that inevitably takes center stage, an aquilinely mellifluous sound that can, when the mood strikes, take off and fly like a hummingbird as he sparks up. Regardless, whether in lyrical simplicity, convoluting improv, or racing for the seashore, there's impressive poetry in Phill's lines and a fidelity to the base mode that both complements it and pulls things more firmly into today.
I think, though, that you may have to fly to Florida, Brazil, Haiti, or the Mediterranean to get the right exterior atmosphere for the disc. However, if, like me, your particular innate genius hasn't yet been discovered and you're sadly not a multi-billionaire, then just pour a nice tall cocktail, sit back, close your eyes, and dream along with Clearwater Sunset and other cuts. This is highly uptone romantic music filled with a carefree eros and sense of footloose liberty. As the world around us crashes from financial and political criminals (same same) and their shenanigans, Projeto B.F.C. ('The Brazil-Florida Connection Project') takes us back to much pleasanter times.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles