For his Blue Note debut, Maestro, Brazilian composer Moacir Santos assiduously avoids his homeland's familiar bossa nova and samba rhythms, instead reinventing lesser-known idioms like baiao and frevo to create his own complex yet pulsating signatures and cadences. Opening with "Nana," easily Santos' most familiar and oft-recorded composition, Maestro quickly proves an uncommonly vast canvas for a who's who of Los Angeles session greats including Joe Pass, Clair Fischer, and Don Menza, all of whom explore new territory throughout the LP. For all their depth and intricacy, Santos' songs never box in their players, but allow them the space and the tools necessary to spread out. Though little-heard on its original release, many of the songs that comprise Maestro were later re-recorded by an all-star Brazilian group for the 2001 Santos tribute effort Ouro Negro, reaffirming their timelessness and their vitality.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny