The obvious model for transplanted Brazilian singer and guitarist Paulinho Garcia is Joao Gilberto, who made the exquisite first bossa nova recordings back when that style was refreshing and coherent and before it devolved into a generic rhythm to be tacked onto largely inappropriate material. Gilberto has worked with small bands and large orchestras, but he always sounds like a man sitting alone, accompanying his mellow, bittersweet voice on guitar. Garcia, who's based in Chicago, has zeroed in on that illusion; on his almost-perfect second album, Solo/Sozinho (Southport), there really is only voice and guitar. He becomes the epitome of the solitary troubadour--a romantic figure hardly visible anymore even in Brazil, where, like everywhere else, popular music has grown busier, louder, and rougher. Garcia's voice, an airy baritone, has less shadow and a bit more energy than Gilberto's, and his languid chords and cleanly plucked lines illuminate the complicated rhythms with the cool clarity of moonlight. His selections include Brazilian classics and his own compositions; and on one Beatles tune, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," he makes his rhythms fit the song instead of the reverse. Garcia performs twice during the fifth annual Southport/Northport Festival, during which the local label will also showcase tenor men Fred Anderson and Von Freeman, pianists Willie Pickens and Marshall Vente, bassist Tatsu Aoki, and vocalists Joanie Pallatto and April Aloisio. (In preparation for the event, label owner and sound engineer Bradley Parker-Sparrow has spent the last few weeks at the festival's principal locale, Pops for Champagne, upgrading a sound system that has never come close to compensating for the room's high ceiling, hard surfaces, and notoriously inattentive audiences.) Wednesday, 8:30 PM, Pops for Champagne, 2934 N. Sheffield; 773-472-1000. Next Saturday, June 20, 2 PM (with Aloisio and pianist Steve Million), Borders Books & Music, 2817 N. Clark; 773-935-4313. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by B.P. Sparrow.