New Release Showcase: John Abercrombie and Louis Simao

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Louis Simão. Photo courtesy of

Today I’d like to showcase two new releases that I’ve enjoyed a lot recently in my listening at home. The first is Canadian-Portuguese musician Louis Simão and his album A Luz (The Light)When I received the CD, a little note appended to it said, “Tom–I know you will appreciate this excellent new release of Lusophone music!” Well, he was right. This talented multi-instrumentalist has appeared on many other albums, and for a good reason—he plays fabulous acoustic and electric guitar, electric and upright bass, accordion, keyboards, and percussion—a sort of one-man band if there ever was one. Don’t get me wrong though, Simão is a virtuoso, not a jack-of-all-trades.  He’s much in demand as a sideman:  he’s worked with huge array of musicians, including Nelly Furtado, Dominic Mancuso (2010 JUNO winner), Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Jazz Project (2009 JUNO nominee), Kiran Ahluwalia, Luis Mario Ochoa, Justin Rutledge, Guinga, Henrique Cazes, Patricia Cano, Daniela Nardi’s Espresso Manifesto, Sophie Milman, Bill McBirnie, and others.  His cd is only available, however, from his website:

A Luz (The Light), Simão plays with a bunch of other terrific musicians, including Luis Orbegoso, Roger Travassos, Bill McBirnie, David French, Maninho Costa, and Marito Marques. Themes include the interplay of darkness and light and the duality of life. There’s even a song dedicated to Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder. This is sophisticated and beautifully-performed music, rhythmically rich and very Brazilian in vibes, with styles ranging from classic choro to modern MPB and samba. Sample the album tracks here.

John Abercrombie’s Up and Coming on ECM. John Abercrombie isn’t exactly up and coming, but rather already arrived. I first enjoyed the veteran master musician’s recordings in 1976 with an early ECM vinyl album, Timeless, which I also listened to over and over. Abercrombie is a very thoughtful guitarist and improviser; there’s no flashy playing or guitar acrobatics. On the new CD he’s joined by great players, too—Marc Copland plays piano, Drew Gress on double bass, and Joey Baron on drums. As usual, the album has the impeccable recorded sound typical of ECM releases. ECM always strives for quality. To get a taste of Aberccrombie’s playing and this current quartet’s sound, you can listen to one full track from their 2013 release, 39 Steps, on the ECM website here. Or you can sample all the tracks from the latest record on Amazon here.

I recommend both new albums and hope you’ll check them out.

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