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Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Merengue

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Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Merengue
(CD Web Page)

Carlos Barbosa-Lima on Guitar
Gustavo Colina on Cuatro
Hendrik Meurkens on Harmonica
Marcilio Lopez on Mandolin
Duduka Da Fonseca on Percussion
George Anderson on Bass
Guitar Trio:
C. Barbosa-Lima, Karin Schaupp, Christopher McGuire

Produced by Heiner Stadler


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 30, 2014

This CD is an enchanting, tropical listening experience. The album’s title leads one to believe this is a full Dominican romp, but, on the contrary, it’s an introspective voyage across Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Paraguay, and Brazil, featuring Carlos Barbosa-Lima on guitar. Along with Mr. Barbosa-Lima are two musicians who have been frequently reviewed on these pages, Duduka Da Fonseca on percussion and Hendrik Meurkens on harmonica. In addition, Gustavo Colina plays cuatro, Marcilio Lopes plays mandolin, George Anderson plays bass, and a special guitar trio is featured on three tracks, with Mr. Barbosa-Lima, Karin Schaupp, and Christopher McGuire. For reasons of space, I did not mention below that George Anderson plays very rich bass rhythms on “Invocation to Xango”, track #1. The album’s music is derived from compositions of Latin American and Hawaiian guitarists. The final track #20 is a Hawaiian melody for solo guitar.

Notable tracks:

#4 – Modinha - Composed by A. C. Jobim. Once you have heard this pure, guitar-harmonica, musical duet, you will be planning to listen to this album on multiple occasions. In fact, this spellbinding song is so eloquent, it could be a score for a central portion of a ballet. Of course, the eloquent piece was composed by none other than Jobim. Hendrik Meurkens’ yearning harmonica solo, accompanied by Carlos Barbosa-Lima on guitar, is truly virtuosic in its poignancy. The melody is mesmerizing, and guitar refrains and harmonica create a searing, soulful finale.

#7 – El Marabino – Composed by A. Lauro. This lyrical, Venezuelan, folk-styled composition is played simply by Mr. Barbosa-Lima on guitar and Gustavo Colina on cuatro. The allurement of two stringed instruments in this danceable, waltz-like track is almost ethereal. Rhythms abound, swirling and whirling, with cuatro and guitar merging or taking solos that constantly intertwine.

#15 – Implicante – Composed by J. do Bandolim. Each track is unique, with this track featuring Duduka Da Fonseca on Brazilian percussion, backing up a mandolin-guitar duo. Marcilio Lopes arranged this Brazilian tune for Mr. Lopes on mandolin, Mr. Barbosa-Lima on guitar, and the percussion. The rapid, repetitive rhythms make this track actually ideal for Argentine milonga, which is an upbeat, dynamic form of tango. It’s lovely to hear a mandolin, which I usually only encounter in Romeo and Juliet balletic, courtyard scenes. Paired with the guitar, one wonders why this musical concept isn’t heard more often.

#19 – Escorregando – Composed by E. Nazareth. The guitar trio of Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Karin Schaupp, and Christopher McGuire perform this Nazareth, Brazilian tune with the varied tempos of “choro”. Nazareth established the genre of “choro”, combining Afro-Brazilian and European rhythms. One could dance a Brazilian samba with ease, although subdued, to this track. Mr. Da Fonseca creates lush, percussive, atmospheric effects. There’s an ingénue quality to this remarkable, album, with its cultural authenticity and choice of the softer side of Latin and Brazilian music, featuring Mr. Barbosa-Lima’s gorgeous guitar. .

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at