Adventure Music AM1018-2
label website

Specializing in contemporary Brazilian music, the Adventure Music label has already given us Symphonic, Antonio Carlos Jobim's orchestral works recorded onto two CDs which won the 2004 Latin Grammy [AM 1016-2]. The crafty title of New Old Music today refers to instrumental Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Garoto, Kchimbinho and Ernesto Nazareth choros reinterpreted by a quintet of master musicians. These are Isaias de Almeida on mandolin; Naylor Proveta on soprano sax and clarinet; Israel de Almeida on 7-string guitar; Benjamin Taubkin on piano; and Guello on percussion. Teco Cardoso sits in on baritone sax on one track.

Each musician's bio is impressive. Details include founders of record labels and ensembles, accredited composers, band and workshop leaders. But relying on the liner notes to get impressed is unnecessary. This is high-level playing, fine as threads of raw silk, neo-classical in its chamber or salon music execution, always lyrical and unconcerned over showmanship or "Latin heat", meandering instead like a lazy summer river through tropical vistas or swaying liltingly like the hips of a sashaying beauty.

The recording quality and mastering choices are superb and result in the equivalent of the finest Thai food whereby pungent, sweet and salty flavors intermingle yet remain clearly separated to retain their unmixed identities. It's about spacious, airy, uncompacted sound that audiophile labels would kill for. The use of pure hand percussion instead of drum kit and unamplified instruments makes this a meeting of conversatory-bred sensibilities and sophisticated light Jazz. A related precursor of sorts is Chesky's Salon New York if you replace its bowed strings with various shakers and tambourines.

This is perfect music for relaxed outings. Enjoyed at background levels, it'll add a very chi-chi ambiance such as you'd expect in a truly classy eatery. Played back at realistic concertizing levels, it's a full-on celebration of highly melodic songs performed not with human but instrumental voices. It's the Brazilian equivalent of Dave Grisman's slower-moving Dawg music which sublimates Blue Grass and Appalachian folk influences into chamber music. New Old Music is wistful, moody, romantic and very charming. It shall appear in my future installment of what to listen to if you want non-stop music that conjures a special atmosphere and never breaks it, offering just the right combination of easy listening and sophistication to enchant without becoming trite or unduly challenging.