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Jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel sings and flirts with Brazilian pop modes on the new Caipi

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Among the characteristics that have made Kurt Rosenwinkel one of the most influential jazz guitarists of his generation is the way he traces his limpid, harmonically sophisticated playing with a dreamy layer of wordless singing, a kind of sonic shadow that enriches the timbre of his bands. On his new solo album Caipi (Heartcore/Razdaz) the voice is no longer a complement but a key ingredient. A collection of original pieces steeped in the breezy lyric glow of Brazilian pop music, the recording features Rosenwinkel playing nearly every instrument—guitar, piano, drums, bass, and synthesizer—joined on some tracks by guests. On most tunes Brazilian jazz-pop singer and guitarist Pedro Martins contributes airy vocals that add a melodic luminescence, soothing an occasionally stiff rhythmic attack. Rosenwinkel himself steps to the mike to sing lead here and there, like on the moody English-language tune “Summer Song,” where he collides the influence of Pat Metheny with the falsetto grace of Milton Nascimento, and “Hold On,” which summons vintage Steely Dan. And a couple of high-profile guest musicians turn in solos both trenchant (Mark Turner’s sinewy improvisation on “Ezra”) and flaccid (Eric Clapton’s snoozy turn on “Little Dream”). It’s encouraging that the guitarist has assembled a sextet to play the music live, including some of the folks who helped out on the recording: Martins and singer-percussionist Antonio Loureiro, along with drummer Bill Campbell, bassist Frederico Heliodoro, and keyboardist Olivia Trummer. I hope Rosenwinkel returns to his more jazz-driven instrumental side, but Caipi—which showcases his curiosity and sharp pop instincts—has grown on me.   v

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