Eric Roberts

Eric Roberts

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Latin - Jazz | Highlands Ranch, Colorado, United States
Total Song Plays: 7,338   
Member Since: 2006
   Last Login: over 30 days ago

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"MY BRAZILIAN HEART" Review

Eric Roberts
My Brazilian Heart
Music Magic Productions (2009)

Heading in a different direction than the introspective and more tone-poem approach that he displayed on 2001's In a Silent Place, acoustic guitarist Eric Roberts sets sail for the soft ocean breezes and sun-soaked beaches of Brazil (as interpreted through the moods and motifs of accessible smooth jazz) on My Brazilian Heart. The six-song EP does indeed contain some Spanish musical influences, notably the sensual Latin rhythms of "Flying Free" and the sexy Spanish flavors of "Swiss Samba," but the majority of this CD is resplendent with the best elements of smooth jazz with literally none of the vapidity or shallowness that sometimes creeps into the genre. Putting it succinctly, this is a killer EP of both mellow and cookin' jazz licks played by Roberts and his guest artists.

Those guests are well-known ambient artist Paul Avgerinos, here contributing on funky soulful bass, Nick Bariluk on keyboards, noted woodwind player Bill Harris and drummer/percussionist Barbara Merjan. Everyone involved plays with finesse, style, and gusto (when it's called for). It's hard to believe these cats haven't been jamming for a long time, to be honest, as their musical chemistry and sense of simpatico is self-evident from the first listen.

One of the comparisons I kept coming up with as I listened to this excellent CD was to Chick Corea's early incarnation of Return to Forever, circa Light as a Feather, because both recordings share a joyous exuberance mated to a refined musicianship and a carefree playfulness as well. My Brazilian Heart is a hugely entertaining recording and I never tired of it over many playings before writing this review.

"Brazilian Morning" starts things off in a spirited manner with a nice piano intro spiraling into Roberts' guitar side-by-side with Harris' flute. Lively but not overly so, the song sounds like a picture-perfect sunrise! "Gentle Breezes" captures the titular reference with a midtempo rhythm and perfect amalgam of assorted musical elements--Avgerinos' bass, Merjan's trap kit drums, Bariluk's keyboards and Roberts' guitar. "Flying Free" sizzles with tropical heat tempered by jazzy undertones and the resultant blend produces just enough fire to get your fingers snapping and toes tapping but is counterbalanced with a giddy effervescence to lighten the mood. "Brazilian Nights" is, paradoxically, the most "American," i.e. urban, cut on the EP, with sexy sax and vibrant piano supported by the solid rhythm section as well as adroit soloing by Roberts.

I've often written of my belief in the adage "quality over quantity" in reference to EPs, and Eric Roberts' My Brazilian Heart is another example of the veracity of the phrase. I certainly wouldn't have minded more of the same on this recording, but if these six dynamite tracks are what the musicians settled on as being their best efforts, well, that's more than good enough for me. If all smooth jazz recordings were this good, the genre would never have gone out of fashion. Who knows, maybe Roberts and company can even breathe new life into it? Highly recommended!

Rating: Excellent

Bill Binkelman
Zone Music Reporter
11/23/09

"IN A SILENT PLACE" Review

"Eric Roberts' new album entitled In a Silent Place is escape music, pure and simple. These are warm, reflective movements blended with smooth jazz elements that make up this fascinating New Age and contemporary instrumental CD. Roberts music gently flows like a cool Colorado stream that empties into a tiny pool in the back of your mind. You can think, drift and dream as Roberts? guitar lulls you into a world that you create. Call it facilitating music. Joining Eric on several tracks are avant-garde cellist David Darling (album Cello Blue, one of my all-time favorites), Robert Weinstein on guitar and Ed Contreras on percussion. This small ensemble puts out some grand music.

Like the simple picture on the album cover, a guitar on a chair with artwork reminiscent of Monet?s Water Lilies, Eric recalls in music his carefree days in Europe. It was time he took to reflect and create. And like a Monet painting, this album of thirteen placid tracks is his creation that has come to life in brilliant music.

In A Silent Place, the title track meanders from the speakers like a brook through the deep forest. Dragon flies buzz about as the sun warms your skin and the only sound is the music, your breathing and the breeze through the aspens. Even clouds are shy on a day like this.

Like browsing through old, sepia photographs and then color pictures, the tune Journey Through Time is a passage from one era into another. The graceful music, featuring Darling?s moody cello, travels along an invisible track like a quiet train. Your traveling companions are Eric?s light guitar licks and Contreras? pitter patter percussion. It is one of my favorite cuts.

The River Runs, a finalist at the Independent Music Awards, is an award winning song that represents a good example of Roberts talent as a performer as well as a songwriter. With a Bosa Nova beat and Darling?s sometimes eerie cello, Roberts follows the course of a river as it snakes through forest, field, and mountain pass. As in life there are calm, gentle stretches and there is white water. And, as in life, all rivers eventually reach to the sea, evaporate into the clouds and fall like blessed rain. This is the best track on In a Silent Place.

With just his guitar and a snippet of synthesizer Roberts plays Cella?s Song, a tribute to his wife (who is also a talented musician). It is a sweet ballad that clearly says I love you in so many ways. Other noteworthy tracks are a series called Reflections I-II-III. More improvisational than standard songs, they are performed by Roberts in an impromptu manner. They are similar to tone poems, but a bit more melodic and relaxing.

To close the album, the engaging song Lullaby bids you goodnight and pleasant dreams. It features Robert Weinstein on very mellow guitar. You can almost hear the strains of Rock-A-My-Baby snuggled inside the tune. It is a soothing piece that produces dreams a plenty.

Eric Roberts took up the guitar as a teen. He holds music degrees from both Ithaca College and from the University of Miami. He plays bass and bandura as well guitar and his fruitful career has allowed him to perform with greats such as Chuck Berry, The Drifters and Maureen McGovern. This new album with cello wizard David Darling is destined for recognition.

Roberts? relaxing music goes way beyond most murmuring ?chill out? fare with virtuosity and variety. Eric ? you can play for us any time."

Rating: Very Good

- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/2/2005