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Oscar Castro-Neves portrait Oscar Castro-Neves is one of the premiere Brazilian jazz musicians, emerging from the bossa nova era onto the international jazz scene, where he has been an esteemed player for several decades. Here's a quick look at his work...


Oscar Castro-Neves "Big Band Bossa Nova" (Audio Fidelity, 1962)
Nice album by one of the best jazz-oriented bandleaders of the early bossa era. Sure, maybe it's not as "big band" as it might have been, but this is still perky, fun material, and more engaging than most of the self-proclaimed jazz ensembles of the time... Worth checking out!

Oscar Castro-Neves "Oscar Castro-Neves" (Imagem, 1969)

Oscar Castro-Neves & Alaide Costa "Alaide Costa E Oscar Castro-Neves" (EMI-Odeon, 1973) (LP)
An elegant, though ultimately sluggish collaboration between this bossa-era diva Alaide Costa and arranger Oscar Castro-Neves. Any song on here, taken by itself, would be a delight, but the album as a whole is a bit of a drudge, since all the songs sound the same -- slow, stately, deliberate, delicate. Costa intones with great precision and regret; Castro-Neves provides demure backing with gentle acoustic guitar, lightly-fusiony keyboards and discreet orchestral touches, some brass and strings, but just the right amount of each. It is quite refined and nice, but it all sounds the same, with an unvarying tempo and identical orchestrations. Still it's quite lovely, and it was Costa's first album in years. Definitely worth checking out, though best taken in small doses.

Oscar Castro-Neves & Lee Ritenour "Um Encontro" (Odeon, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Aloysio de Oliveira)

A nice album, reasonably substantial for a soft-jazz set, and particularly interesting since it predates session guitarist Lee Ritenour's work as a solo artist and crossover jazz star. Funky fusion meets gooey, sentimental muzak... and some fine technical chops from all involved. Not really my cup of tea, but fusion fans will want to check this one out.

Oscar Castro-Neves "Brazilian Scandals" (JVC, 1987)

Oscar Castro-Neves "Maracuja" (JVC, 1989)

Oscar Castro-Neves "More Than Yesterday" (Navarre, 1991)

Oscar Castro-Neves "Tropical Heart" (JVC, 1993)

Oscar Castro-Neves "Oscar!" (Living Music, 1987)
(Produced by Oscar Castro-Neves & Paul Winter)

A pretty soft-core, smooth jazz offering, co-produced by Paul Winter (who recruited Castro-Neves to play with him in the early '60s, when he first went down to Brazil...) Winter plays saxophone on a couple of tunes; in general the album is prety lightly arranged and intimate. It's waaaay too gooey for me, but fans who like super-mellow, muzak-y jazz will probably love this album.

Oscar Castro-Neves & Paul Winter "Brazilian Days" (Living Music, 1998)

Oscar Castro-Neves "Playful Heart" (Mack Avenue, 2003)
Several decades on down the line, and still going strong, this album features braz-jazz old-timer Castro-Neves along with the like of Toots Thielemans and Dave Grusin, in a light, breezy set, punctuated by Jobim songs, show tunes by Stephen Sondheim, a bit of bebop and Beatles, and a few original compositions. Again, this is too much on the soft side for me, but smooth-jazz aficianados and Castro-Neves fans will enjoy it.

Oscar Castro-Neves "All One" (Mack Avenue, 2006)

Oscar Castro-Neves "Live At The Blue Note Tokyo" (CT Music, 2009)


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