Vinicius Cantuária & Bill Frisell
[eOne Music (2011)]
Heard as another jewel in the crown of guitar innovator extraordinaire Bill Frisell, Lágrimas Mexicanas will please all. Opening with the wonderfully discordant guitar strains of “Mi Declaración,” the release is signature Frisell, rife with his genius. But Lágrimas Mexicanas is a collaboration with Brazilian singer-songwriter Vinicius Cantuária, who is known for blending bossa nova with contemporary styles. To collaborate effectively, of course, means that one artist must creatively feed off the other; their individual talents merging into another unique whole. Strengths, and even weaknesses, can be utilized to great result if a magical melding occurs.
That does not happen on Lágrimas Mexicanas. Cantuária’s vocals seem always only incidental to the moment of Latin Jazz at hand. He was inspired to begin writing this material after moving from Brazil to New York (both artists share songwriting credit for all selections), yet little of it gives the listener a sense of that presumably momentous transitional event. “Calle 7” came to be after Cantuária strolled on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, but it is devoid of a crucial feeling of time, place and emotion. The vocals become a chorus on the lively title cut but still fall flat.
Cantuária also plays acoustic guitar and percussion on this CD. There’s some pleasant guitar interplay, nice melodies and rhythms, and a beautifully ethereal fadeout on “Lágrimas De Amor.” Still, the collaborative ambiance is one of measured reflection. That would be OK, but even in a quiet mix there needs to be a productive spark. [eonemusic.com]
—Ellen Geisel (Ballston Lake, NY)