After two years, our WorldMusic pages have attracted enough attention to put us on the comp list of certain labels. Chesky's recent dispatch of Ana Caram's Hollywood Rio was the first unsolicited appearance of a Chesky album, here in my post office box of sleepy Arroyo Seco. I held my breath while tearing into the brown envelope. Would I like whatever was inside? It's bad taste to piss on a gift. It's equally bad taste to pretend it didn't happen - which, when it goes unreviewed, amounts to much the same thing. It's also bad taste to fake enthusiasm when it doesn't occur spontaneously.
I positively adore Chesky's Salon New York, an instrumental celebration of Brazilian Jazz which I consider one of the best ever cut. In the same breath, I'd have to mention Casa by Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto on Universal. Alas, these Bossa Nova makeovers of Hollywood hits like "I'm getting sentimental over you" or "Raindrops keep falling on my head" -- with Michael Freidenson's synthesizer arrangements as augmented by Lawrence Feldman on sax and flutes -- failed completely to fill my hopeful sails with anything other but a haltingly unreliable breeze of zero momentum. For every collagen-enhanced set of lips that have become such a rage among Hollywood's leading young actresses, there exists an album of overly breathy sex pot fare that seems tailor-made for over-aged men who wistfully remember their pre-Viagra stud days.
That's how I felt about Hollywood Rio. Despite the liner notes "drenched in glorious romance", I got a physical Jacintha/ Jheena Lodwick reaction of recoil. Something about the combination of material, arrangement and lazy delivery spelled artifice in capital letters - like the words 'happy hour" appearing amidst Brazilian lyrics with an inflection suggesting meaning when all they conjured up were sweet drinks with little paper umbrellas. You get the picture. Hopefully, you like this kind of tropical smooth Jazz. It's impeccably mastered as you'd expect from Chesky and Ana Caram does enjoy her own audience of diehard fans - it just ain't me. Apologies to Troy Pugmire at Chesky that I couldn't yet it up for his kindly sent album. Had it combined the folks from Salon New York and their arranger, I likely would have had an orgy of an encounter...