Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)

201010_marcos_amorimAdventure Music AM1052 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****


Brazilian guitarist Marcos Amorim grew up in a musical household in Rio de Janeiro, where his father would invite musicians over for jam sessions that often ran into the early hours of the morning. Amorim began formal studies when he was 14 and was playing with some of his country’s leading musicians while he was still in his teens. Portraits is his second outing with bassist Jorge Albuquerque and drummer Rafael Barata and his fourth disc released here in the US through Adventure Records. All three musicians have extensive experience with other Brazilian jazz musicians of note, including Mario Adnet, Ivan Lins, and Nestor Torres.

The three players received equal billing on their previous disc, Revolving Landscapes. Even though they work this time as the Marcos Amorim Trio, Portraits is a collaborative work. Albuquerque wrote three of the ten tunes (Amorim wrote the rest), and Amorim shares solo time generously. Portraits is composed of ten tracks that show a wide command of the group’s Brazilian musical heritage, but American jazz fans will find it exciting and approachable. Amorim plays beautifully melodic, well-developed lines, and his tone is clean and full. He often multi-tracks his guitars, with an acoustic taking the rhythm-guitar parts, which give the tunes their harmonic foundation.

As with Revolving Landscapes, one of the great pleasures of Portraits is that it lets you hear musicians of breathtaking skill working as a unit. Albuquerque’s bass lines are buoyant yet powerful, interacting beautifully with Amorim’s guitar, and his solos are tightly constructed and fully formed. Barata is a remarkably skilled drummer whose cymbal work is deft and subtle. Even with the high level of musical sophistication and skill showcased on the disc, there are no empty displays of technical prowess. The musicians react intuitively to each other and create intricate, joyous music that’s daring in its improvisational flights.

“Bantu” is one of the disc’s high points, with a driving rhythm punctuated with Barata’s intricate playing and Amorim’s ringing chords on a nylon-string guitar. Amorim also solos on acoustic guitar, and the recording conveys the guitar’s resonance with striking clarity. “Leblon” is the kind of Jobim-influenced jazz that Stan Getz made so popular, and Amorim plays with the same delicate beauty that Getz brought to his bossa nova recordings. “Daniel” is as close as Amorim has come to a tribute to Pat Metheny, a guitarist from whom he’s taken some cues.

Portraits is a bit more focused than Revolving Landscapes, and the song sequencing gives it a better pace. Perhaps Amorim’s billing is an indication that he took a stronger leadership role. He obviously cares about the sound of his disc, since he mixed the CD, which resulted from sessions in three Rio de Janeiro studios. Kenneth Lee mastered the album for US release. The sound overall is very good, but I might have pulled Barata up a bit in the mix. Albuquerque’s bass has a lot of presence throughout, and you can easily hear the distinctive tones of Amorim’s guitars. Marcos Amorim should appeal to anyone who likes Brazilian jazz, but if he keeps making discs like Portraits, he has the potential to reach a wider audience.

. . . Joseph Taylor