Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, and it gave the world an incredibly wide variety of music in the 20th Century: everything from accordion-driven forro to funky Afro-Bahian pop to melancholy sertaneja (which has been compared to American country music as well as Mexican mariachi). But the Brazilian music that American and European jazz fans tend to be the most familiar with is the bossa nova and Brazilian jazz that has come out of Rio de Janeiro. American jazz guitarist Ben Sher tends to favor a Rio-ish approach on Please Take Me to Brazil, which finds him leading a part-American, part-Brazilian band he calls Tudo Bem. The artists who join Sher on this enjoyable, if derivative, CD range from Brazilian drummer Duduka da Fonseca and Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza to the well-known American pianist Kenny Barron. Though Sher embraces a few Antonio Carlos Jobim standards that have been done to death ("Agua de Beber" and "Wave"), he doesn't always make obvious choices. The guitarist does some of his own writing, and he also interprets two Baden Powell-Vinicius de Moraes pieces ("O Astronauta" and "Cando de Ossanha") as well as Ruby & the Romantics' "Our Day Will Come." Sher isn't the only jazz artist who has interpreted that early-'60s R&B hit, but even so, it isn't every day that the song gets a Brazilian jazz makeover. Please Take Me to Brazil isn't innovative, but it's a decent, if conventional, effort that will please those who like a Rio-ish approach to Brazilian jazz.
Please Take Me to Brazil Review
by Alex Henderson