Choro Famoso is an ad hoc pair of groups of Bay Area-based Brazilian and jazz musicians who are fueling multi-faceted mandolinist Mike Marshall's ongoing affair with Brazilian music. As a result, Marshall's second Brazilian-rooted release on his own Adventure Music label is a livelier affair than his more sparsely populated first release, Serenata. This time, the groove is almost constant, ever-so-gently swinging, loaded with easygoing melodies that evoke the shores of Rio but not without a touch of an intimate homegrown Windham Hill sensibility. Marshall works with a quintet on the first seven tracks -- himself on mandolin, Carlos Oliveira on nylon-string guitar, Andy Connell on clarinet and soprano sax, and percussionists Michael Spiro and Brian Rice. On the last three tracks, Marshall expands to a septet, retaining Oliveira and adding Jamie Bell on guitar, Harvey Wainapel on reeds, Aaron Johnston on surdo, Dennis Broughton on pandeiro, and Steve Robertson on tamborim -- and that gives the rhythms of "Noites Cariocas" and "Luis Americano na P.R.E." a jet-propelled jump start. Marshall sounds perfectly at home in the Brazilian grooves, and the whole CD goes down easily in just 40 minutes.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell