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Smooth jazz from Brazil

Perolas Negras
Perolas Negras
By Leo Gandelman

Polygram Records: 1997

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This review first appeared in the October 4, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

Unless you're from Brazil or an absolute fanatic about Brazilian music, you've probably not heard of Leo Gandelman. But if you dig smooth, jazz-based pop music along the lines of Bob James or Spiro Gyra, then Gandelman is one of the best.

He's possessed of a nice, warm sound on tenor sax, and the songs all bounce in a light, inoffensive way. It's somewhat of a letdown that there isn't more of a Brazilian feel to his music, a bit more of a modern Latin backbeat or even a touch of now-dated bossa nova. It's even more surprising given that the album was recorded in Brazil, and that most of the compositions are by major Brazilian songwriters – including names known even in the United States, like Milton Nascimento and Djavan.

Still and all, this is a fairly romantic album, a nice mood-setter when the fire's crackling and the wine is cold.