Ricardo Peixoto’s latest “Scary Beautiful” is full of pretty sounds

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Composer and Brazilian guitar master Ricardo Peixoto is set to release his third CD as a leader July 31, 2019. Titled “Scary Beautiful,” the recording is comprised of 10 original compositions by Peixoto. The sounds on the album feel richly textured and they engage and entertain. The songs have delicate moments that are sometimes countered by more intense moments. Some of the best examples of what Peixoto and his ensemble have to offer are the songs “Circles” and the title track, “Scary Beautiful.”

About Ricardo Peixoto

Peixoto has one of those life stories that once people hear about it, they are curious enough about how events played out that they want to see the movie version.

A native of Rio, Peixoto began his musical journey at age 8. His first instrument was the piano, but it did not hold his interest. By age 12, Peixoto was teaching himself the guitar to play the music he heard on the radio. By 17, Peixoto was formally studying classical guitar.

There is pathos on Peixoto’s journey – – his mother died when was 7 years old. His father was a math professor who taught at several top-ranked US universities. As a result, Peixoto and his father spent time traveling between Rio and New Jersey, Baltimore and Providence, Rhode Island.

Peixoto’s classical training was soon at odds with the freedom and improvisation of jazz. He loved those qualities in jazz. And it is that love that brought the burgeoning guitarist to Berklee School of Music in Boston. He studied with Pat Metheny, Gary Burton and Mick Goodrick. Peixoto returns to Brazil frequently, but has made the US his permanent home. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area. His performance duties have taken Peixoto throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Brazil.

Peixoto is joined by 26 players, including a vocalist on “Scary Beautiful.” The effort is as artful as it is easy to listen to.

“Circles” by Ricardo Peixoto

The song opens “Scary Beautiful” and sets the audience’s expectations. The guitar work recalls folk rock traditions and listeners will appreciate the lush tone of the acoustic instrument.

The interchange between woodwinds and guitar makes a lilting motif that rings around the soundscape. The tone is gentle, with moments of more frenzied playing. When things calm down, listeners can feel the dynamics building again for the more energized playing. Overall, the feeling is relaxed, and the tones are beautiful. Nothing scary here.

“Scary Beautiful” by Ricardo Peixoto

The beauty of the flute opens the track. The woodwind sounds like a bird, but the tension builds in an intense way as strings come in, but the flute does not lose its original motif. The layered sound is becoming Peixoto’s trademark at least on this album. The rhythm takes on a more Latin feel when the flute takes the showcase. The strings are used deftly and they add to the dynamics. Midway through, the guitar comes to the fore of the soundscape, and before audiences can get used to it, the flute returns in a breathtaking motif that recalls nature sounds. Later, when the violins sound a bit aggrieved, the instrumentation calms down with interludes from the piano, then the guitar. At the end, it is as if all the parts are playing a round and the strong finish will make some audiences want to applaud, even if they are listening in the privacy of their own homes.

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