It’s not every day that I receive an album for review from Brazil, and I was pleased to hear about the Delira Musica label that has been promoting high quality independent music from that country since 2003. Formed to specialize in classical and jazz instrumental repertoires, the label expanded in 2007 to include blues and other genres. My first introduction to Delira Musica comes with the solo album debut of “Gaucho” guitarist Christiano Crochemore’s Play it Again. The term “Gaucho” refers to a person born in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. Since 1986, the blues guitarist and singer has been based in Rio de Janeiro.
Cristiano Crochemore started playing blues during his high school days, and by the 1990s was playing alongside legendary guitarist Bebeco Garcia, founder of “Garotos da Rua” (a pioneer rock & roll band from the south of Brazil). Today, Crochemore evocatively bleeds considerable emotion from his Fender Stratocaster 72, at the same time creating plenty of feeling with his passionate vocals. Others on the album include Otavio Rocha (guitar, slide guitar), Helio Ratis (drums), and Luciano Mendes (bass). Special guests are Beto Werther (backing vocals), Humberto Barros (keyboards on the cover of Little Milton’s “Losing Hand”) and Pedro Garcia (percussion on “Make it Wit Chu”).
Cristiano Crochemore gives us two orignals, “Play It Again” and “Why Don’t You?” Both demonstrate the bluesman’s own personification of his rootsy, laidback influences. For example, the blueprint of Cristiano’s music shows his great respect for such players as J.J. Cale (“Trouble in the City”), John Mayall (“Medicine Man”), Steve Winwood (“Can’t Find My Way Home”), and John Lee Hooker (“No Shoes”). The introspective, relaxed, and warmly conversational approach to blues-rock makes for an impressive debut. In fact, to capture more of a vintage sound, “Play it Again” was recorded mostly live to eight tracks with a minimum of overdubs. That kept a strong emphasis on the feeling and vibrancy of the songs. At the same time, I’d be curious to hear Crochemore’s future album releases even more highly arranged with the likes of a horn section, keyboards, and strong female backup vocals on some cuts.
With the able production assistance of Otavio Rocha (Blues Etílicos Band), Play It Again emerges as a splendid introduction to this Brazilian guitarist and singer. I also note his strong closing tribute to the gritty Chicago blues styling of Willie Dixon with two lesser-known covers, “If the Sea was Whiskey” and “Cool Kind Woman Blues.” Much like Dixon, it’s clear to me that Cristiano Crochemore is also a poet of the blues.