Al Hermann

Bossa San Miguel

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The brothers Hermann (Al on trombone and Phil on sax) are purveyors of very smooth, very mainstream bossa nova. They are accompanied on this release by guitarist Gil Gutierrez and an unobtrusive quintet of bass, piano, keys, drums, and percussion. The music here goes along at an easy pace, as you would expect of a collection of bossas, eschewing any real highs or lows. The tunes include classics such as "Desafinado," "Blue Bossa," "Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)," "How Insensitive," and "One Note Samba." While all of the musicians are competent, they don't bring anything new to these almost cliché-bound chestnuts. Even a spicing of an unusual harmony or a brief tempo change doesn't do much to bring these performances out of the doldrums. Granted, the bossa nova is one of the mellower of dance musics, but it is dance music. None of these tracks are likely to inspire anyone to cut a rug. It's all syrupy smooth and a little soporific, bordering calamitously on Muzak. What is needed is a little crispness, a little variety in pacing, and a little more imagination. All of the raw materials are there -- the good tunes, the talented players. It would be refreshing to hear the Hermanns do something a little less timid with them.

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