After receiving that half dozen albums from Zoho Music, I’ve realized that this record label is heading off into slightly different directions for 2022. While I’ve applauded the longtime vision of Zoho–using South American and Caribbean folk music as a filter for the global jazz community–many of these new releases focus on the simple beauty of folk music. So it is with Danilo Brito and João Luiz’s new album, Esquina de São Paulo.
My last Zoho review, of Carlos Barbarosa-Lima and Johannes Tonio Kreusch’s Manisero, had a similar premise–let’s just get two of the most accomplished acoustic guitarists on the Latin music scene to play the most beloved folk songs from their cultures. Mandolin player Danilo Brito and guitarist João Luiz are also widely celebrated in contemporary Latin music, and a beautiful synergy is also created here. But while Zoho Music may have once focused on how two friends from separate parts of the world got together and created an entirely new sound, this is a recording of shared love and respect.
Danilo Brito and João Luiz first met in 2004 and have been playing sporadically ever since. Luiz was more of a classical guitarist, and yet Brito heard the Brazilian swing that coursed its way through his style. Esquina de São Paulo translates to “São Paulo Street Corner,” and that’s what it sounds like–two gifted musicians playing out in public and it’s only when you draw closer that you discover you’re in the presence of virtuosos.
I mentioned the simplicity and beauty for a reason–this is about floating between two musical points in space, Danilo Brito and João Luiz, with plenty of fresh air in between. Maybe a light breeze is blowing. You don’t hear noise from the gathering crowd, because everyone is coming to the same realization as you, that this particular street corner is the place to be. The only sound comes from these two instruments, and it sounds glorious.