Sensual is Paraguayan harpist Roberto Perera's sixth album for Telarc's smooth jazz subsidiary, Heads Up. Perera continues his way down an absorbing melody lane with a program of songs played in a manner that will offend no one and will not require very much concentration by the listener to enjoy what's being presented. One track seems to merge into another without much rhythmic or musical distinction. They all seem to be variations on a gentle, Latin-tempo theme. This stream-of-consciousness approach is broken up now and then, such as by the vocals of Luis Enrique and Tommy Anthony on the pop-oriented "Gracias a la Vida" and "Sensual," respectively. Perera is responsible for writing seven of the 12 songs on the program, which may explain the lack of strong differences among the cuts. One of his more charming efforts is a lilting "Cruising Leblon," where he adds sharping levers to his harp, giving the music a honed edge. But regardless of which track is playing, all of them are designed to fit into the overall theme established for the session: sensuality. This atmosphere is created with strong contributions by Michael Levine and his keyboards and programming, creating exotic sounds to complement Perera's harp. Levine also made a couple of contributions to the song list. The work of these two is enhanced by appropriately placed percussive insertions, mostly by Wiso Santiago. Those who find the prettiness and the hypnotizing qualities of smooth jazz appealing will want to add this latest release from Roberto Perera to their collections.
by Dave Nathan