Carlos Barbosa-Lima’s Delicado continues Zoho Music‘s pursuit of the finest South American music in contemporary jazz. Late last year I made a prediction that both Argentine tango and Brazilian jazz would have a strong presence in 2019, but what I didn’t realize was all the variety and innovation I’d hear. Barbosa-Lima, for instance, wanted to capture the natural beauty of Rio de Janeiro as opposed to its vibrant night life and sense of celebration, so Delicado is exactly that, delicate, attuned to the tiniest details hiding in the forests and lagoons.
Guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima is careful not to equate delicacy with silence, however, so these 15 tracks, a collection of Brazilian songs, use many of the traditional Brazilian rhythms and forms such as bossa nova, samba and choro. While much of this beautiful album centers around the acoustic guitar (or guitars, since Barbosa-Lima often shares strumming duties with Larry Del Casale), the percussion from Duduka Da Fonseca is intricate and exciting. Delicado is, however, an album of distinct moods, ones based deeply in the finger work and movement on the fret of the guitar.
This album is such a treat, and for one reason in particular–Zoho Music, as I’ve said countless times, really pays a lot of attention to sound quality on their recordings. (They really should be putting out some vinyl, though.) I’ve just received two more releases from Zoho, one big band jazz and the other a mix of fusion and tango, but those are such big-sounding albums. Delicado really shines when it’s mostly Carlos Barbosa-Lima and his guitar making beautiful music, despite the fact that bassist Nilson Matta and pianist Helio Alves are such talents. This is a fantastic guitar recording, to put it succinctly, and credit should be given to Del Casale, the producer. (I know I tend to give Zoho credit as a whole, but this is clearly a time when I need to single out the man with the plan.)
If there’s a single reason to buy Delicado, however, it’s to hear Carlos Barbosa-Lima. He has such a gentle touch and that makes him one of the most lyrical performers in contemporary Brazilian jazz. Zoho Music excels finding not only the finest musicians, but the ones with the deepest souls, the ones most in tune with the meaning of the music. The meaning behind Delicado might not be much more than basking in the sheer music of Rio De Janeiro, but why would you need anything else?