Review: Vinyl copies of Japanese jazz drummer Takeo Moriyama's modal masterpiece Smile have long been in-demand amongst collectors. This can partly be attributed to its obvious quality, but also to the fact that few copies ever made it out of Japan. This reissue of the 1981 release, then, is more than welcome. Moriyama and his accompanying musicians recorded the four-track set in November 1980, serving up instrumental workouts that got a good balance between advancement of killer grooves and the showcasing of some remarkable instrumental solos. The most remarkable thing, of course, is Moriyama's drumming. In fact, you'll find few finer jazz drum solos than those on the album's standout moment, epic opener "Exchange" (though Moriyama's work on the title track is almost as good).
Review: Second time around for Arthur Verocai's 2016 album "No Voo Do Urubu", a set that remains the veteran Brazil artist's most recent full-length excursion. It remains a superb set full of hazy, sun-kissed future classics that put a decidedly loose and languid spin on the 1970s MPB sound that he did so much to popularize. That means ear catching blends of samba, easy listening, folk, jazz-funk and smooth AOR. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the gentle breeze of "O Tempo E O Vento" and the flute-laden, Azymuth-influenced shuffle of "No Voo Do Urubu", to the big band samba sizzle of "Mina Terra Tem Palmeiras", where Lu Oliveira adeptly delivers a memorable lead vocal.