Paulinho Da Costa

Agora

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Brazilian-born percussionist Paulinho Da Costa's first album as a leader is very much an album of its era, for good and bad. Da Costa is the preeminent Brazilian percussionist of his time, and his kinetic grooves, built on a variety of traditional Afro-Cuban percussion instruments, power these six lengthy workouts. Indeed, on the hypnotic "Terra," his percussion is nearly the only instrument. However, the rest of this album tends toward standard mid-'70s jazz-funk. As a result, the album sounds terribly dated, all wah-wah guitar, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and ARP synthesizer. On the other hand, this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for those into camp '70s nostalgia. More to the point, as camp '70s nostalgia goes, this is really quite good! Da Costa and his primary writing partner, arranger Claudio Slon, turn out to be masters at creating percolating jazz-funk grooves with the melodic savvy of the best Brazilian pop, for a best of both worlds feel. On both the sweet bossa nova disco of "Toledo Bagel" and the carnival-style percussion and chanting of the closing "Ritmo Number One," Da Costa and his group (featuring special guests like Greg Phillinganes and Lee Ritenour, for the full mid-'70s fusion experience) are entirely at ease, loose and funky but still entirely slick. Those phobic to memories of avocado shag carpeting will want to avoid Agora, but it's worth checking out for both hipster ironists and Brazilian jazz fans.

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