In the United States, Brazilian trombonist Raul DeSouza is best known for his Capitol releases of the late '70s. But his first session as a leader actually came in 1964, when he recorded À Vontade Mesmo for the Brazilian market. The LP wasn't released in the U.S., and it wasn't until the '70s that DeSouza provided any American releases. After being out of print for many years, À Vontade Mesmo was finally reissued on CD by RCA Brazil in the early '00s. RCA has not reissued the album in the U.S., although this CD has been sold in American stores as an import. For this reissue, Brazilian producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro provides new liner notes that are in Portuguese. But one doesn't have to understand Portuguese to know that these 1964 performances are excellent. When DeSouza (who is listed as Raulzinho) recorded this album, the bossa nova explosion was in full swing -- and plenty of musicians (both Brazilian and American) were trying to cash in on bossa nova's popularity. But while À Vontade Mesmo is instrumental Brazilian jazz, the album isn't bossa nova -- certainly not in the Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd sense. Bossa nova was a fusion of cool jazz and samba; À Vontade Mesmo, however, has more of a hard bop/samba outlook. While cool jazz favored subtlety, restraint, and understatement, DeSouza is passionate and hard-swinging on tunes that range from Duke Jordan's "Jordu" to Vinícius de Moraes' "Voce e Eu" to Bart Howard's "Fly Me to the Moon." That isn't to say that DeSouza isn't lyrical and melodic -- he's very lyrical, and his romantic sensibilities are especially strong on de Moraes' "Primavera" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Samba do Avião. Recorded 13 years before Sweet Lucy, À Vontade Mesmo was a highly promising debut for the distinctive trombonist.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson