ERIC ROBERTS
My Brazilian Heart
(MusicMagic Productions)

 

It’s not often that guitarist Eric Roberts makes a new CD but when he does it’s clearly worth a listen. Back in 2005 Roberts released his CD debut, a fine instrumental showcase for his guitar skills called In A Silent Place. Now in 2009 the Colorado based guitarist follows up with a newly recorded 6 track CD ep entitled My Brazilian Heart. Everything about this new CD release speaks quality—from the studio recording sound down to the eye-catching cover artwork. Whereas In A Silent Place found Roberts in the studio recording a stellar mix of jazzy and reflective yet upbeat New Age guitar instrumentals, with My Brazilian Heart he also sounds influenced by the tropical sounds of Brazil combined with smooth jazz. Roberts recorded In A Silent Place in the studio with former Paul Winter Consort cellist David Darling and fittingly, Roberts lists a number of players among his chief influences including Paul Winter guitarist Ralph Towner, as well huge Brazilian music legends like Charlie Byrd and Baden Powell. In addition to the comparison with the early Paul Winter Consort sound, there’s also a neoclassical jazz music sound in the mix with a sublime Jean Pierre Rampal meets Earl Klugh vibe in play on My Brazilian Heart, often mixing within the same track! If there’s one minor aside here it’s that the disc only contains six tracks but the music is so good you’ll find yourself reaching for the replay button to hear it again more than once. If enough people get to hear it, I’m sure Roberts will consider a volume two in the future. A number of players appear backing up Roberts on these six guitar masterpieces including Paul Avgerinos (bass), Bill Harris (woodwinds), Nick Bariluk (keyboards) and Barbara Merjan (drums/percussion). Easy on the ears, uplifting guitar based instrumentals, My Brazilian Heart makes a fine spin for jazz and Brazilian music lovers that can also serve as a cinematic and reflective musical backdrop for your weary ears. www.EricRoberts.org / www.MusicMagicProductions.com


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Musical Background

I began studying guitar when I was around 13 and started with the traditional Mel Bay guitar method. I went through all seven books, and my teacher supplemented them with learning standards, which he arranged chord and melody style. I also used many of Joe Pass’ books as well as those by George Van Eps. Both my father and mother knew most of the standards and big band tunes, so I gravitated towards their melodicism. Ironically, I did not get into rock music (Hendrix, Grateful Dead, etc.) as much as many guitar students at the time. I would often play with my teacher, Chuck Dudley, at the ‘Peg Leg Bates Country Club’ in Kerhonkson, NY during my high school summers and got the chance to work behind many famous black entertainers – it was a gas as well as a great learning experience! I became a classical guitar major at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY and studied with jazz guitarist Steve Brown and classical guitar teacher Henry Dunn. I later studied electric bass while attending the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Of course, upon hearing legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, I was hooked, and since I was able to play all styles on the bass, I became a sought after bassist in the South Florida area, eventually working for contractor Peter Graves, who led as well as played trombone with Jaco and his Big Band. While living in South Florida, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play bass behind such great musicians as Chuck Berry, The Fifth Dimension, The Drifters, Maureen McGovern, Cab Calloway, Chubby Checker, The Lettermen, Peter Noone, The Smothers Brothers, as well as comedians Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Danny Gans and countless others.


New CD EP


My Brazilian Heart

My new EP, My Brazilian Heart, includes 6 of my smooth jazz and Brazilian compositions that were written around the same time as my previous CD, but I never got around to recording them to my satisfaction. I was initially attracted to Brazilian music upon hearing the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and the song “Samba Do Avio”, arranged by my guitar instructor, Jack Greenhouse, at the New York State Music Camp. What a revelation that was and from that moment on, I was hooked on nylon string guitar.

The CD was recorded at “Studio Unicorn”, owned by Paul Avgerinos, grammy nominated bassist/guitarist/composer who has performed with Buddy Rich, Charles Aznavour, Liza Minelli, Jean Pierre-Rampal, Isaac Stern, Jewel, Willie Nelson and countless others. Bill Harris is on woodwinds and has performed with Chaka Khan, Steve Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Jose Feliciano, the Brecker Brothers and many more. Nick Bariluk is on keyboards and has performed with Jon Lucien, Brian Keane, Michael Urbaniak and others. Barbara Merjan is on drums/percussion and has performed with James Taylor, Harry Belafonte, Carol King and more. Incidentally, both Bill Harris and Barbara Merjan were my classmates at Ithaca College School of Music, and this recording was the first time we had played together in more than 30 years!


In A Silent Place

My debut CD, In A Silent Place, was recorded at the studio of David Darling, former cellist with the Paul Winter Consort, who has been an inspiration to me ever since I first saw him with the Paul Winter Consort. Additionally, his “Music for People” program, which teaches musicians and non-musicians alike to make music together and improvise was a great learning experience. The tracks were recorded digitally with Pro Tools. The percussion tracks and final mixing were recorded in Colorado during July and August of 2001. The music on the CD is a combination of jazz and new age styles, which I’m particularly attracted to. Most of the songs were written while I was living in Geneva, Switzerland from 1993-1995. Since the CD was released, many of the tracks have won awards, such as being finalists in the “new age” category of the 2005, 2008 and 2009 Independent Music Awards, and first prize in both the 2007 USA Song writing Competition and International Acoustic Music Awards. It has also gotten airplay on Music Choice’s “Soundscapes” program as well as XM and Sirius radio.


Favorite Guitars

Since I started playing guitar, my favorite guitars were Gibson, and my first professional guitar was a 1971 Gibson ES-330. I later sold it and bought a 1961 Gibson Byrdland that was on consignment at a small music store for only $375.00! My first professional classical guitar, which I play on this CD, is a Picado, handmade in Spain. I also own a Ramirez 2WCE electric classical, as well as a Godin Multiac, Carvin NS-1, Roland GR-33 guitar synthesizer, Baby Taylor and a Takamine EG10C as well. Regarding amps, my first amp was a Fender Pro-Reverb but since then I use a Fishman Loud Box for live playing or a Carvin StageMate Portable PA.


Musical Influences

In summarizing my guitar style, I would say that it is a combination of influences, namely Ralph Towner, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, Ted Greene, Oscar Castro-Neves, Baden Powell and Charlie Byrd. I would have to say, though, that my all time favorite guitar player was and still is Lenny Breau. He made the guitar sound like a keyboard and was a true original.


Web Sites


www.musicmagicproductions.com
www.myspace.com/musicmagicprod
www.ericroberts.org

www.cdbaby.com


Press Release / Credits for My Brazilian Heart

Eric Roberts – Guitar
Paul Avgerinos – Bass
Bill Harris – Woodwinds
Nick Bariluk – Keyboard
Barbara Merjan – Drums/Percussion

MusicMagic Productions
3692 Fairgate Court
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126
Phone: 303-346-2970
Fax: 303-374-5147

Warm, salty sea breezes redolent with Latin spices and floating over light, melodic guitar ripples; balmy nights where your head sways on cool cocktails of icy jazz and samba; the sparkling laughter of children playing beside a bright blue sea.

Eric Roberts’ music is a treat for the senses, taking you wholly into exotic locations and drawing aural scenarios. His guitar melodies are beautiful: interesting enough to listen to intently, yet so unobtrusive they can also be a relaxing back drop.

“Brazilian Morning” is light and uplifting. The introduction paints a picture of dawn and the piece then moves at a moderate pace that imitates the movement and mood of morning activity. The melody is quite busy and intricate, with a pronounced flute that engages you intellectually. It has a nice, satisfying shape, building to a climax and rounding off without feeling too long or too short.

“Gentle Breezes” is very evocative of a seaside scene. It is beautifully cinematic, moving at a pace that makes the listener feel like they are panning over a landscape aurally. There are a few different melodic ideas developed, and once again various instruments are featured. There is almost complete departure in the middle section before we return to the central theme which is repeated in gentle waves towards the finish.

It’s hard not to start tapping your feet and swaying right from the opening bars of “Flying Free”. It’s probably one you’ll want to dance to.

“Children’s Song” has a fun playful feel with a very lyrical melody and a central theme that is developed through several movements. Its skip-along pace imitates child’s play and once again, draws a picture for its listeners.

“Brazilian Nights” is a change of pace and mood into something more somber and intense - a smooth and intoxicating tune - very cocktail lounge. Again, well structured with a mellow introduction moving into a more settled pace and feel. The alternating lead instruments and improvisations prevent it from sounding repetitive and help develop the musical “story” so that we feel a sense of journey.

“Swiss Samba” with its classic jazz feel is familiar yet fresh. Nicely textured with an instrumentation that’s not too heavy, the shift to different lead instruments provides a variety of colors for the melody. It’s got an upbeat, swinging pace with lots happening in the rhythm to keep fingers and toes busy keeping time.

This is a varied and interesting collection of pieces, slotting into the jazz/latin/chill-out genre. It would be great as a cocktail party CD or mood setter and some of the tracks could easily be placed as theme music for TV.

{thanks to Songsalive @ www.songsalive.org}

 

 
   
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