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New album from Ray Peixoto

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    Posted: 08 Aug 2019 at 9:32pm

Although guitarist and composer RICARDO PEIXOTO (pay-sho-to) was born and raised in Brazil, his musical horizons cross borders, cultures, and genres. SCARY BEAUTIFUL, his newest CD, comprises 10 of Peixoto's original compositions, each colored by his broad musical palette. SCARY BEAUTIFUL is Peixoto's third CD as a leader. He led the band Terra Sul, which released an album called Kindness of Strangers on the Mojazz label. He also released Inverse Universe, released by Adventure Music, a project he recorded with virtuoso Brazilian vocalist Claudia Villela, a friend with whom he has been performing off and on for years. Inverse Universe also featured harmonica legend Toots Thielemans.
Growing up in Rio, Peixoto was exposed to a wide range of musical styles. Rio was the hub of culture at the time, and Bossa Nova was a new and exciting sound, while music from the U.S., France, and Italy flooded Brazilian airwaves. Peixoto liked all of it, and the first record that he got was by Ray Charles, when he was just nine years old.
Peixoto also spent a lot time travelling and living in the U.S. as a youth. His mother passed away when he was just seven, and his father was a mathematics professor who taught at several top American universities. Peixoto spent many years moving back and forth to Rio and places like Princeton, Baltimore, and Providence, wherever his father had a teaching job.
Peixoto's musical education began on the piano when he was eight years old. He studied the piano for a while, but it didn't hold his interest. He wanted to learn the music he heard on the radio, so he began teaching himself guitar by ear when he was 12 and was soon playing in rock bands. He started studying classical guitar formally when he was 17.
Despite his classical training, Peixoto loved the freedom and improvisational approach of jazz, which brought him to Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he took courses in arranging, composition, and guitar performance, studying with Pat Metheny, Gary Burton and Mick Goodrick. Although he often returns to Brazil, he made the U.S. his permanent home and moved eventually to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he still resides.
Since then, he has performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan and Brazil, recording and performing with Flora Purim and Airto, Bud Shank, Dom Um Romão, Sivuca, Claudio Roditi, Dori Caymmi, Guinga, Arturo Sandoval, Spok, and Jovino Santos Neto, among many others. Peixoto is also a member of the popular Bay Area group, The Berkeley Choro Ensemble, who released their album The View From Here in 2018. He currently teaches at California Jazz Conservatory, and has taught at California Brazil Camp and Jazz Camp West.
Peixoto has been performing the music he composed over the last several years with various configurations of musicians. SCARY BEAUTIFUL grew out of his desire to begin to capture in a recording some of his compositions. The project came to fruition when Ricky Fataar (a Bay Area producer and drummer with Bonnie Raitt), heard some of the music in a performance and offered to help with production.

The recording includes some of the best Brazilian and straightahead jazz players from the San Francisco Bay Area and Brazil, including Ken Cook, piano; Marcos Silva, piano; Cliff Hugo, bass; Scott Thompson, bass; Aaron Germain, bass; Rafael Barata, drums; Kendrick Freeman, drums; Mike Shapiro, drums; Bob Afifi, flute; Paul McCandless, soprano sax; Harvey Wainapel, clarinet/bass clarinet; Jessé Sadoc, flugelhorn; Marcelo Martins, tenor sax; Aldivas Ayres, trombone; Paul Hanson, bassoon; Kyle Bruckman, oboe; Rob Reich, accordion; Luiz Brasil, tenor guitar, percussion; John Santos, percussion; Brian Rice, percussion; Ricardo Guerra, percussion; Bernardo Bessler, violin; Priscila Plata Rato, violin; Marie Christine Bessler, viola; Marcus Ribeiro de Oliveira, cello; and Claudia Villela, voice. Peixoto plays 7-string acoustic and electric guitars throughout.
Although heavily tinged with Brazilian rhythms and melodies, Peixoto's music reflects his wide musical interests. The CD opens with "Circles," featuring Peixoto's rich acoustic guitar sound with a lovely soprano sax solo by McCandless. "Santos e Demonios," which means Saints and Demons in English, is based on baião rhythms. Baião is a style that originated in rural Northeast Brazil and became popular in the 1940s. "Scary Beautiful," the title tune, features a string quartet accompaniment arranged by Luiz Brasil. The composition has an almost through-composed, classical feel. "Nereids" is a short tune, just 1:19 minutes long, that Peixoto originally composed as the introduction to "Scary Beautiful," but he felt it worked well as an independent piece. It features eight vocal tracks, overlaid by Villela.
Favelas, or shantytowns, surround Rio on hillsides called morros. Different samba styles are associated with the different favelas, and "Morro da Paixão" means "passion hills." The tune also features horn arrangements by Luiz Brasil. "Simpática" is a piano/guitar duet featuring Marcos Silva. It's based on the choro rhythm. Choro is a popular instrumental genre that originated in the 19th century. Although the word choro means cry, the rhythm is usually happy and upbeat. "Pixinguinga" is actually a play on words on the names of two great Brazilian composers. Pixinguinha was the nickname of Alfredo da Rocha Viana, Jr., the father of modern choro and icon of Brazilian music, and Guinga, who is considered one of Brazil's greatest contemporary composers. The woodwind arrangements were created by Brazilian composer, arranger and pianist Jasnam Daya Singh. "Noturna" (nocturnalin English) is a romantic, solo guitar composition performed by Peixoto. Classic baião rhythms are in 2/4 time. On "Baião de Tres," Peixoto changes that formula and musical feel by changing the rhythm to 3/4 time.
Peixoto's music is firmly rooted in Brazilian music and jazz with hints of his classical training. His fluid melodic sense and original harmonic approach place him among the top representatives of Brazilian guitar in the U.S. today.
SCARY BEAUTIFUL will be available in stores and online everywhere on July 31, 2019.

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