Desafinado are a local music group performing the songs of bossanova composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim in addition to the music of more contemporary Brazilian idioms (falling under the blanket term “musica popular Brasileira”). All these forms come from the gradual and precise modernization of Brazilian folk music to various Northern hemisphere popular musics. Led by their two intrepid guitarists, Desafinado (named after the Jobim song which became a standard in the U.S. under the translated name “Slightly Out Of Tune”) perform a set of their favorites on their first record.
The band has really come into their own with the acquisition of vocalist Simone da Silva, who is perfectly sultry on various tracks, particularly following up Don Briskin’s tense flute solo on Jobim standard “Wave,” where she provides quite a release. Even the male-vocaled tracks like Tim Johnson’s (guitar/vocals) impressive original “O Gato” contain her soft voice in octaves. Connie Johnson (vibraphone) is always perfectly in place, and Chad Dunn (Nu Orbit Ensemble) contributes berimbau (a two-tone string instrument of Brazil) to the traditional song of the same name. All the details of recording are evident thanks to local producer Mark Rubel. The only thing missing is the enjoyment that comes from watching the percussionists perform live.
The one disappointment comes from the very organization of the record. As one would expect of the debut for a supremely talented (though humble) band, it’s geared towards first-time fans as a sampler of the group’s repertoire. It’d be ideal to see the band use their next record to travel in a new direction, but in the meantime, we can feel fortunate to have this recording. To their credit, though, when the record seems to be headed off-track, the percussion and da Silva’s voice bring it back into focus.
Desafinado can be seen performing at happy hours all over town. The CD is available at Pages For All Ages and at any performance by the band.