Sarah Jane Hargis (flute), Steve Haskin (guitar) and A.J. Montrose (bongos/percussion) are Rio Trio. They recently released Straight to the Top which combines classical, jazz and Brazilian and Latin sounds. I’ve also always loved Brazilian music and this album captures so many aspects that attracted me to that style in the first place. This album also reminded me of Madredeus which is one of my favorite musical ensembles of all time.
The trio is extremely talented in a number of ways. It didn’t take much time at all for me to realize the technical skill of the band. The performances are nuanced, dynamic and crisp. I appreciate technical skill but it’s not the end all be all. When I listen to music I have to find the aesthetics, the patterns of energy, the creativity and perhaps the most importantly the emotion. Rio Trio doesn't disappoint in these areas either.
There was a mix of emotions I was getting when listening. The one I keep coming back to is how soothing and comfortable it made me feel. The flute felt like it was wisping away on the opener “Footprints” and the acoustic guitar and percussion were so locked with each it felt like one instrument.
Some of the songs felt playful and festive like the cover they do of “My Favorite Things.” I was thinking of a humble European town where people were dining outside and children were playing in the street.
Some are more meditative like “Crystal Silence” while others like “Lucky Southern” are romantic and relaxing. There is a nice mix of variation such as “Agua De Beber,” “Nature Boy,” “Look to The Sky” and “My Little Boat.” It’s hard to pick out highlights since I enjoyed all the songs but “Wave” and “Black Orpheus” are in contention.
Overall, I give this album a big two thumbs up. Take a listen.
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