Toquinho ‘Toquinho’ LP/CD (Mr Bongo) 4/5

Guitarist and singer Toquinho recorded some of the finest ever samba-jazz sides with the late and very great Brazilian poet, Vinicius de Moraes. This excellent re-issue dates from the late 1960s/early 1970s and finds him paired on selected numbers by Jorge Ben on vocals. By far the best known of the songs is ‘Carolina Carol Bela’, with its stunning cuica drum heavy percussive accompaniment which has become something of an anthem and worth purchasing the album alone for. However, this is by no means a one track album and just as enthralling is the samba-funk of ‘Que maravilha’, with once again Ben guesting on joint lead vocals with the leader (the pair co-composed the song), and it is quite simply two and a half minutes of unbridled Brazilliance. What may be unknown to uninitiated in the UK is that Toquinho is a guitar specialist, and similar to Chet Baker who alternated between primary musical instrument, the trumpet, and vocals. The delicate voice that Toquinho also possesses is a joy in itself and is heard to wonderful effect on the opening number, ‘Na Água Negra Da Lagoa’. Elsewhere, choro rhythms meet samba flavours on the delicious instrumental, ‘Tocando Prá Silvinha’, with deft guitar work displayed by the leader. A third stunner of a song is ‘Zana’, with tamborim percussion, a catchy guitar riff and more sublime vocals. Classically trained, Toquinho excels on the gentler pieces such as the reposing, Chuva na praia de Juquí’, which is very listenable. Ending the album on a contemplative note is a truly beautiful guitar solo piece, ‘Evocação À Jacob’. An early and worthy example of Toquinho’s twin talents.

Tim Stenhouse