Rick DellaRatta

Live in Brazil & The Blue Note

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This two-CD set captures pianist/vocalist Rick DellaRatta at three different venues, two in Brazil and at the Blue Note in N.Y.C. The program is a conglomeration of DellaRatta originals, standards, traditional pop, and a couple of Brazilian beat pieces. Whatever's being played, it's all very glitzy and somewhat over-produced, as on "Living Inside a Daydream," where DellaRatta's voice is enveloped in a smooth jazz-like atmosphere of electronically produced strings, rock-like keyboards, and other undeniable instrumental emissions coming from the speakers. This particular piece meanders on for almost nine minutes with no apparent musical objective. DellaRatta's voice is a blend of Chet Baker, Harry Connick, Jr., and Barry Manilow. When he puts aside all the electronic apparatus, the music becomes much more attractive. One of the better tracks is a long acoustic improvisational instrumental version of "Autumn Leaves," with DellaRatta showing deftness at the piano as he and the rhythm section of René Hart and the late Denis Charles dissect this classic standard. But when the group returns to the DellaRatta compositions, such as "Take It or Leave It," matters get somewhat muddled and discordant or cloying (as on "Say You'll Be Mine"). But the set ends on the plus side with the last piece on the second CD, "Sleepy Time Down South," with an appropriately sultry trumpet by Walt Szymanski. But to wait for more than 80 minutes to get to that point is a bit much to ask. DellaRatta would have been better served by cutting this album down to a single CD, eliminating the chaff and sticking with the straight-out acoustic material. He might also consider setting aside the vocalizing and concentrating on his skills at the piano.

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