Brazilian People may be pianist Phil Greg's gig and release, but sparkling vibes player Rusty Burge is a luminescent stand-out within it, almost steals the show right from the very beginning with a delicate touch that's intriguingly steel-pan-ish at times. The quintet is composed almost entirely of—and this is soooo cool!—professors resident at the University of Cincinnati College's Conservatory of Music, drummer John Taylor the exception. Speaking of colleges, I remember seeing Gary Burton at UCLA's Royce Hall in the 70s. He and his ensemble, with guitarists Mick Goodrick and a then-unknown Pat Metheny, opened for the magnificent Oregon. Gary's presence was entrancing, transcendent, and Burge's work reminds me very much of that event, the gent an exceedingly refreshing instrumentalist, unique, one of the very best…and there's a quantifiable degree of John Lewis in him as well, probably because both came from a very classical grounding.
His bandmates, though, are just as savvy (I tend to make a big deal about vibes players 'cause they're so damned rare nowadays, almost an extinct species!), the well-known Kim Pensyl plying a mellow but mesmerizing trumpet and flugelhorn, Aaron Jacobs liquidizing the background via basslines, Taylor oft sussurant, atmospheric, DeGreg filling in all the corners and midgrounds before taking his thoughtful solos. Bruno Mangueira steps in on guitar for two cuts, Ano Novo, one of my fave tracks, and A Yankee in Brazil, to significantly perk up the band's already in-the-pocket vibe. Something about the guy just adds an extra dimension.
The band holds an especial affinity for A.C. Jobim ('n who doesn't?), featuring three of his numbers, the famed Triste caught live, expanding for nearly 10 inventive and relaxingly energetic minutes (Oxymoronic? No! Listen and see). That's the strangely cool thing about Braziliana: even when it's smoking hot, there's still an integral dreaminess to it all, a languorous hedonism even amidst Bacchanalian tempi and improv. The New Wave of Lite Jazz mistook the layback inherent in such things as artistic slack, but it wasn't, it still isn't, and Phil DeGreg & Brasilia show why. Even should you be knocking back mojitos as you listen, you're going to be intent on the rhythms and demonstrations of mannered prowess. And if you get up and softshoe around the living room too? That's okay because you'll soon be sitting back down again, smiling and seatdancing while digging on the jazziness of it all.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles