And Now, A Darn Good Album

Brazilian Guitar: Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals (Mainstring Records)
Pat Kirtley with John Standefer

By Bob Mitchell

I'll get to the music on this disc momentarily, but first a word about the graphic design: The smiling, colorful toucan and the delightful green lizard in the rain forest captures the spirit of the music before the laser ever hits the disk. Designer Becky Osborne gets my vote for Best CD Cover of the year.

Oh, and I want to mention the production as well. Although guitarist Pat Kirtley is featured on numerous other projects, such as Narada's Guitar Fingerstyle, this recording is his fifth independent release and it is his best yet. The project is extraordinarily well-engineered, that is no easy task for acoustic guitars and a wide assortment of delicate percussion instruments. A tip of the hat to Eddie Mattingly and Craig Russell.

Now back to our regularly scheduled music review. Brazilian Guitar is an amazing 44 minutes of dazzling picking and intelligent arrangements from two talented artists who appreciate each other. The ways in which they play off one another is a bounty of polished elegance that can be appreciated by even the most casual listener. Six tracks were penned by Kirtley, including the exuberant "El Cerrito," and "Movimento." Kirtley's insightful liner notes state "Movimento" uses "just about every chord I know." "Starry Skies" and "Alone With You" are sumptuous and sensual.

John Standefer and Craig Russell join Kirtley on this outstanding acoustic journey into the exhilarating sounds of the Bossa Nova and other Latin rhythms. Standefer, like Kirtley, is a national fingerstyle guitar champion and Russell is a master percussionist. The guitar is showcased in this release, but make no mistake, Russell's contributions are enormous. He is never overpowering, yet, he is strong in a subtle way. Acoustic bassist Derek Jones, of Nickel Creek, guests on an expressive Kirtley original, "Tango In The Rain."

Other outstanding tracks include a compelling cover of the Beatles' "And I Love Her," a captivating take on Burt Bacharach's "Look of Love" and a groovy version of "One Note Samba" by A.C. Jobim. (Find out more at