A national treasure in his native Brazil since launching his recording career as a teenager, guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima has a unique dual sense of history which he conveys beautifully on this heartfelt tribute to classic Brazilian music forms choro, chorino, and samba. One of his teachers was the great Andres Segovia, so he's always integrated a sense of classical grace into even his samba and jazz playing. No less than 13 of the 18 pieces on Carioca (meaning "native of Rio de Janeiro") have been arranged by the guitarist in a characteristic style which honors the integrity of various masters but also makes the pieces very much his own. These legends include choro composer Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934), who composed the gentle title track, the brisk and lively "Odeon," and folkloric romp "Brejeiro" originally for piano. The hour-plus set also includes classics by Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho (1897-1973) and more recognizable popular composers Luiz Bonfá ("Samba de Orfeu") and, of course, Barbosa-Lima's close friend and colleague Antonio Carlos Jobim. The guitarist creates subtle but emotionally intense takes on "Samba de uma Nota Só" (One Note Samba) and the instantly familiar "Desafinado." Barbosa-Lima's intention is obviously to create a sweeping sense of the development of the music that has long inspired his own artistry and the world's love of Brazilian music. But the set is engaging enough so that more casual fans of music from that country can enjoy it even without knowledge of the overall concept and the history that drives it.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran