REVIEW: Doug Munro – Big Boss Bossa Nova 2.0

As I listened to guitarist Doug Munro performing on his newest album, Big Boss Bossa Nova 2.0, on the Chase Music label, the thought came into my mind that sometimes simpler is better.

Munro keeps it very basic indeed on the album, performing as part of a trio in a studio setting, where he’s joined by bassist Michael Goertz, and either Jay Devlin or Jason Anderson on drums. The result for listeners is a very involving and intimate musical experience, with a simplicity that’s very appealing.

It’s a little surprising when compared to its predecessor, 2004’s Big Boss Bossa Nova. That album did very well for the artist, but featured a much larger group of musicians and a sound that was more expansive and orchestrated, but it’s probable that the performer wanted something more than just more of the same.

Although he’s flown a little below the radar, Munro is an experienced and respected guitarist who has forged a nice career in appearances and recordings, with a half-dozen albums to his credit. He’s a versatile instrumentalist, equally at home with acoustic or electric, and isn’t afraid to venture into different musical arenas.

The name of the album will pretty obviously tell you that he’s focusing on Brazilian music, but the pieces selected and the arrangements used allow for a surprising amount of deviation from the theme. The opening track, Munro’s take on Corea’s “Spain,” demonstrates his outstanding playing ability while at the same time expanding the geography a little.

It’s just one of several of Munro’s energetic and ambitious attempts at recreating some classic jazz pieces. Others include his version of Monk’s “Bemsha Swing,” and “Blue Seven,” a piece best-known as a work from saxophonist Sonny Rollins.  

There are a number of other good listens here. Overall, a nice collection that will please most jazz lovers, leaving them with just one question. Will there be a Big Boss Bossa Nova 3.0?

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