Paulo Sérgio Santos

Gargalhada

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In his second solo album, virtuoso clarinetist Paulo Sérgio Santos surpasses his already-excellent first release. Dedicated to the choro genre, Gargalhada ("Burst of Laughter") aims at economy and simplicity. No overdubs (excepted for some small, almost unnoticeable percussion and in Caio Márcio's solo in "Nítido e Obscuro"), and he only has as accompanists his son Caio Márcio, a 19-year-old violão (acoustic guitar) virtuoso, and the inventive and experienced Oscar Bolão at the percussion, Santos evidences here his sensibility for the choro soul uncompromised by his solid classical preparation. The repertory, carefully chosen, pays tribute to the genre through survey from its inception to contemporary times. The Belle Époque style is presented by Anacleto de Medeiros' "Três Estrelinhas" (a choro classic here interpreted a cappella in a meditative, melancholic reminiscence of the past) and by Chiquinha Gonzaga's mazurca, "Angá" (performed as a lively maxixe). Pixinguinha, the composer/arranger/instrumentalist who greatly contributed to transforming the way of playing into a new genre, is represented by "Gargalhada," "Choro de Gafieira," and "Cuidado Colega" (the latter with Benedito Lacerda). And the contemporary choro is covered with Hermeto Pascoal's baião "Bebê" and three compositions by Guinga -- the dizzying baião "Nítido e Obscuro," "Caiu do Céu," and "Canibaile." Some three originals appear here, more as a curiosity -- agreeable as they are, they don't measure up to the challenging spirit of renewal the genre requires. The most conspicuous absence in the album is improvisation, which is important to modernization; Santos had been developing instances of this in his later live performances. A little sample is provided in the last repetitions of the theme in "Samba Chorado" and in "Nítido e Obscuro." Anyway, Gargalhada is evidence that Santos has climbed to the podium of Brazil's best clarinetists and deserves to be acknowledged as such.

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