Raul de Souza

Sweet Lucy

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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 (Canc√£o 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.