Carlos Barbosa-Lima’s “Delicado” captures the beauty of Brazil


Guitarist and bandleader Carlos Barbosa-Lima has put together a stellar lineup of musicians to present the music of Brazil. “Delicado” evokes the scenic landscape of Rio de Janeiro – – from its coastal beauty of lagoons, forests to its tropical climate, there is much to recommend Rio to the traveler. And, as listeners can attest, by listening to Barbosa-Lima’s recording, there is something for jazz fans, world music fans, and those who simply like beautiful and rhythmic music on “Delicado.”

“Delicado,” released last spring, is an inspired album full of engaging rhythms. Barbosa-Lima is joined by Larry Del Casale on guitar, Duduka da Fonseca on percussion, Nilson Matta on bass and Helio Alves on piano. All of whom have played on other ZOHO CD recordings. De Fonseca and Matta were nominated for a Grammy for Trio Da Paz “30,” also on the ZOHO label.

The accomplished ensemble play songs on “Delicado” that are either written by natives of Rio de Janeiro (cariocas), or people who are familiar with the area.

“We wanted to honor the exuberant nature and welcoming spirit of the cariocas,” Barbosa-Lima said.

The sound of the album captures the spirit of Rio, and transports listeners. At times, it is easy to feel as though the music on “Delicado” is the soundtrack television travel shows should have.

“Delicado” honors the musical traditions of bossa nova, samba and choro. The musicians acknowledge that the roots of some of the forms come from Africa, but Rio’s culture is partly defined by the genres.

The sound and style of “Delicado” by Carlos Barbosa-Lima

Two songs that are can’t be missed on “Delicado” are “Tico Tico,” and the title track.

“Tico Tico” was composed by Zequinha De Abreu (1880-1935). The title takes its name from that of a bird that migrated from Peru to Brazil in the early 1900s. The song was a hit in the early 1940s. In its current form, the song is an arrangement for two guitars in choros style. Choros is often defined as a sort of New Orleans jazz for Brazilian music. The instrumental genre has been popular for more than a century, with musicians still playing the classics their own way.

Barbosa-Lima kicks off “Delicado” with the song about birds, and the energetic beauty of the piece makes listeners enthusiastic about the selections that will follow. It is difficult to hear the guitar motif that wraps around the song and not feel a type of dance, whether the listener is prone to dancing or not.

The rich, yet delicate guitar at the beginning gives way to jaunty, almost-skipping rhythm that comes in roughly halfway through. The percussive accents are an excellent touch and at the end, even if a person has never seen a tico tico, the subtle cascade of percussion evokes the flight of birds on to the next stop in their migration.

“Delicado” the title track, takes advantage of the musicians’ ability to keep going with multiple motifs and various accents of sound coming in for dynamics. There is texture and moodiness in the song that, while not somber, does come with its own brand of gravitas. Still, it does manage to lighten with an unexpected change in guitar rhythm.

Barbosa-Lima and the musicians he has assembled manage to celebrate genres of Rio, while also highlighting their ability to be flexible in terms of style and rhythm. “Delicado” is delightful listening.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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