Brazilian jazz isn't necessarily soft and caressing. The innovative saxophonist Ivo Perelman, for example, has demonstrated that Brazilian jazz can be forceful, intense, dissonant, and mindful of the blistering free jazz of Albert Ayler and post-1965 John Coltrane. Perelman's explosive blend of Brazilian rhythms and avant-garde free jazz has made it quite clear that Brazilian jazz can -- if the musician is so inclined -- be far removed from the sweetness of the bossa nova. But for the most part, Brazilian jazz has lived up to its reputation for being gently melodic -- and adjectives like soft and caressing easily describe Inspiration. Recorded in Manaus, Brazil, and mixed in Rio de Janeiro, this instrumental CD finds two Brazilians -- guitarist Antonio Mello and veteran percussionist Thiago de Mello -- forming a cohesive trio with American clarinetist/alto saxophonist Dexter Payne. And together, the three of them provide an album that is rhythmic and swinging but not swinging in a hard, aggressive way. Subtlety prevails on Inspiration, which was released on Ethos Brasil in Brazil and Dexofon in the United States -- and Payne is an ideal companion for Mello and de Mello because of his delightfully lyrical playing. Whether Payne is on clarinet or alto sax -- whether he is embracing Mello's compositions (which dominate the album) or turning his attention to Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Radamés y Pelé" -- his warm, inviting lyricism is a major asset on this excellent CD.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson