Raul De Souza is one of the mysteries of the jazz world. In the 1970s, it was obvious that the Brazilian trombonist had a lot going for him: a distinctive and appealing tone, major chops, versatility, and a lot of soul and warmth. So why did he mysteriously fade into such obscurity in the 1980s? In an ideal world, De Souza would have built a huge catalogue. But regrettably, his recording career was short-lived. Produced by George Duke, 1977's Sweet Lucy is the first of three albums that De Souza recorded for Capitol in the late '70s. Vocal-oriented funk jams like "Wires" and the title song (both written by Duke) are catchy, but the fusion and pop-jazz instrumentals are where De Souza really shines. When he stretches out on "Bottom Heat," "Wild and Shy," and other pieces that he composed himself, De Souza shows a great deal of potential as a soloist. The LP's weakest track is a performance of the Brazilian ballad "New Love (Cancão do Nosso Amor)," which finds De Souza attempting to sing. The song is gorgeous, but De Souza doesn't do it justice because, quite honestly, he can't sing -- calling his voice thin is being charitable. Besides, De Souza doesn't need to use his vocal chords to sing; he does plenty of "singing" with his trombone, and his command of that instrument makes Sweet Lucy an LP that is excellent more often than not.
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