For many years, it seemed most unlikely that Thiago de Mello's debut album and 1973 recording, Amazon would ever be reissued on CD. Only 1000 copies of the original vinyl LP were pressed back in 1973, and the master tape was destroyed in a fire. But where there is a will, there is sometimes a way. Brazilian producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro had a copy of the LP that was still in good condition, and in 1999, he used digital technology to restore the recording; the result was a new CD version of Amazon that, although not ideal by audiophile standards, still sounds enjoyably good. On Amazon, de Mello is joined by an impressive cast of Brazilian and American players that includes, among others, Airto Moreira on drums and percussion, Claudio Roditi on trumpet, Paulo Moura on alto and soprano sax, Richard Kimball on piano, and Herb Bushler on bass. De Mello, who arranged the material with Kimball, is heard on acoustic guitar, percussion and vocals; on top of that, he composed all of the melodies, although some of the lyrics were written by others. Amazon contains its share of instrumentals, which include the vibrant "Amanhecer (The Dawn)," the good-natured "Rede de Caboclo," and the optimistic "Freedom." But vocals are also a high priority on this 38-minute disc, and they range from de Mello's performances in Portuguese on "Vou-Me Emboura (I'm Leavin'")," "Tanta Ternura (So Much Tenderness)," "Andei So Por Andar (Time for a Change)." and the haunting "Amadeste (Desert Song)" to singer Michelle Brourman's performances in English on "Blue Sky" and "Don't Turn Away." DeSouteiro's digital restoration of Amazon in 1999 was a pleasant and totally unexpected surprise, and fans of Brazilian jazz and Brazilian pop will find a lot to enjoy on de Mello's very first album.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson