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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Dreams of Brazil
By Brian Rolland
Label: On The Full Moon Productions
Released 2/21/2006
Dreams of Brazil tracks
1. Along the Amazon
2. Vineyard Sound  
3. Belem do Para   
4. When Caravels Sailed..
5. Berimbau Song
6. Please Make Love With Me
7. Ask Me Again
8. In A Silent Way
9. At Dawn
Songs from the Portuguese
It’s not exactly, nor entirely smooth Brazilian jazz. It’s more. There is an almost a slack key guitar feel to the mix as Brian Rolland performs his gentle jazz and World music album Dreams of Brazil. Brazil, the South American giant has had many influences in the music world from Bosa Nova to Samba to choros and beyond. On this intriguing work Brian scours the country, and it’s a mighty big country, for inspiration for his guitar. Lucky for us he finds it where he travels.

Brian Rolland grew up in Cambridge just this side of Boston, Mass., the cultural center of the universe (sic). He was influenced by the stars of his youth and the jazz legends of our time, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, and Keith Garrett, et al. He probably went to the Loeb Theatre a lot. Of course you can’t live in Boston without being exposed to mainstream classical and rock music and everything else on the fringes. After gleaning a BA in Music Composition and Music Theory from the University of New Hampshire he attended the prestigious Berklee School of Music and gained attention at the New England Conservatory of Music. Quite an accomplishment, but things happen when you have innate talent.

On Dreams of Brazil Brian is joined by bass man John Lockwood and percussionist Bob Weiner and Hope Carpenter, Marianne Murphy and Katy Auburn on jazzy background vocals.

Along the Amazon starts off the recording and what a beginning it is. It is an ambitious voyage full of sunlight, lapping waters and high spirits. We explore the “Ocean River” heading east from old Coari and on to Manaus. Along the way we are greeted by smiling faces on the shore, lush green forests bowing over the boat and the grand spirit of the muddy river that mean life to all of South America and the planet as well. This is one of the best cuts on the album and I played it often.

Once the workhorse of Old World navies, the caravel came into its heyday during the 15th century sailed by the Spanish and Portuguese. Brian revives the bold tradition and history as he plays When Caravels Sailed. It is an elaborate tune that has the wind at its back and the sun on its prow as it sails around the Portuguese coast and down the bubbling Atlantic to the Azores. This tune has some wonderful classical elements and a Spanish guitar motif that brings to life the chronicles of da Gama, Dias and of course, Columbus.

There is sometimes an unspoken bond between a man and his passions. Brian explains it in the tune In a Silent Way. It is a quiet, warmhearted song on solo guitar that meanders like a gentle breeze and touches you like a lover’s tender kiss.

At Dawn with its ambling cadence and congenial guitar score is another favorite. The world has revolved once again and a new day has commenced. Listening to this song all you can do is smile back at the sun. The warmth, like a renewed passion, touches deep in your heart.

Honestly, I never tired of hearing Brian Rolland’s incredible music. There is a diversity of style that is counterbalanced by a musical river of continuity that keeps the listen fresh every time. Brian is working on his newest offering called Tides In and I for one cannot wait to enjoy it. I heartily recommend Dreams of Brazil.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 4/11/2006
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