Marcos Ariel

My Only Passion

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The acclaimed Brazilian keyboardist/composer gets kudos first and foremost for coming up with one of the best modern arrangements of "Girl From Ipanema" in many a year. His twist on the Jobim evergreen begins with a the seductive Portuguese whisper of Daniella Carlo over a snazzy retro-soul meets modern hip-hop groove. As two tracks of her voice (one high register, one low) duel it out for control, Ariel sets the foundation with a percussive, nearly arpeggio take on the famed melody. Elsewhere, he switches off between intimate, moonlit variety solo piano ballads that border on new age ("Moon's Mood") and exciting, soundscape and percussion heavy productions which speak to Ariel's Brazilian heritage. Sometimes, he plays these breezy and cool, as on "My Only Passion," which finds the pianist and electric guitarist (and fellow countryman) Ricardo Silveira easing along a loping rhythm. Much more fun are the album's two best original cuts, "Rio Walk" (which finds Ariel's high register melody dancing upon Silveira's low tones as percussionists Meia Noite and Marcelo Costa "hiccup" in the background) and the jamming, densely rhythmic closer "Bahia Suite." On that song, Ariel races with abandon over the percussion bed, winding in and around Frank Gambale's almost avante garde style guitar lines. Triumphant any way you look at it.

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