Fresh off his win at the 2024 World Entertainment Awards in Hollywood for Finesse, which was named 'Best Tropical Album', guitarist-composer Sergio Pereira is back with more soothing sounds to uplift the soul. Once again combining elements of bossa nova, samba, jazz and pop into one pleasing package, Pereira’s latest offering comes directly from the heart. As he said, BOSSA+ is an album that reflects the music and sounds that come from my life experiences, influences, sounds and places.”

A native of Rio de Janeiro who currently splits his time between Spain and Austria, Pereira is an accomplished player who has mastered the art of fingerstyle comping on nylon string acoustic guitar, the heart of bossa nova as established by his role models like João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Carlos Lyra, João Donato and Marcus Valle. As he explained, “ Growing up in Rio in the 60’s and 70’s has contributed tremendously to the energy, groove and rhythms
reflected in my music today.”  Following a move to New York City in the ‘80s, Pereira expanded his guitar vocabulary
by studying with jazz greats Chuck Wayne and Sal Salvador, giving him an ability to “blow over the changes” in a quintessentially jazzy sense. Both qualities — the alluring comping on nylon string guitar and the burning single note improvisations — come to fruition on BOSSA+, his fourth recording as a leader.

Once again anchored by Pereira’s longtime collaborator, drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, continuing his

co-producer/co-arranger duties from Finesse, this vibrant session also features such luminaries as the stellar Venezuelan trumpeter Chipi Chacón, Cuban-born pianist Luis Guerra and Cuban-born electric bassist Ariel Ramirez, all of whom are members of the guitarist’s current working band. Special guest here is Brazilian guitarist extraordinaire Romero Lubambo, who comps brilliantly and trades licks with Pereira on two outstanding tracks.

The collection opens on an inviting note with the mellow “Bossa.” With Chacón’s warm- toned flugelhorn carrying the melody, as Pereira underscores with persuasive comping on his Raimundo acoustic guitar made in Valencia, Spain, the gently grooving piece soon gives way to individual solos by the leader on his Godin nylon string electro-acoustic guitar and Guerra on piano, each done without breaking the magnetic bossa spell.

A hopeless romantic (and what Brazilian is not?), Pereira next serenades with the perfect Valentine’s Day song, “Sea of Love,” which he sings in English. This mellow pocket number features some superb muted trumpet playing by Chacón and finds the guitarist-vocalist affecting a laid-back phrasing to suit the alluring vibe of the tune while comping gently on acoustic.

The dreamy “One for Pat,” underscored by drummer Jose San Martin’s supple brushwork, is Pereira’s tip of the hat to iconic guitarist Pat Metheny, with his lilting wordless vocals on the undulating rhythm recalling Pedro Aznar’s work with Metheny on Letter From Home. Bassist Ivan Ruiz Machado contributes a formidable, deep-toned upright bass solo before special guest Lubambo delivers a fleet-fingered solo on acoustic guitar. Ivan ‘Melon’ Lewis follows with a graceful piano solo, then Lubambo on acoustic and Pereira on his gorgeous sounding Sadowsky electric archtop trade rapid-fire licks at the tag.

Trumpeter Chacón carries the melody on the grooving bossa “Montgo,” an engaging number delivered with simplicity and charm. Pianist Guerra turns in a particularly compellingnsolo while Chacón also steps out for some high-note fusillades. And Pereira alternates between electric and acoustic guitars here, soloing on his Godin nylon string while also delivering the kind of scat-and-play unisons that have become a signature of George Benson.

Lubambo returns for “Saudades,” a minor key number with an irresistible groove. Pereira plays his Raimundo acoustic guitar on the intro and for the rhythm parts throughout. Guerra’s cascading piano solo is in the tradition of the late Lyle Mays while esteemed guest Romero solos masterfully on this intricate Pereira original. Both guitarist’s smooth exchange at the end of this buoyant bossa truly show them on one accord, feeling the groove together like sharing a single heartbeat. Pereira and his capable crew switch gears on “Desamor,” which is done in the funk-
nspired partido alto style of samba popularized in the ‘70s and ‘80s by artists like Tania Maria and Airto Moreira. With Ramirez affecting a heavy slap-bass style reminiscent of that era and Guerra shifting to a vintage Fender Rhodes electric piano sound for his solo, the leader delivers poignant vocals (in Portuguese) about a lost love before unleashing a potent guitar solo. Chacón also turns in bristling Randy Brecker-styled solos midway through the tune and again at the tag.

On the closer, a percolating bossa rendition of the jazz standard “There Will Never Ben Another You,” Ramirez flaunts facile chops on his electric bass solo over the cooking rhythm section before Pereira taps into his jazzier side on his own solo. Pianist Guerra’s studies with the late bebop legend Barry Harris come to the fore on his burning solos here, and trumpeter Chacón s turned loose to blow freely over the changes of this 1942 Harry Warren tune that has been covered innumerable times by such jazz greats as Chet Baker, Wynton Kelly, Lester Young, Art Tatum, Stan Getz, Bud Powell, Joe Pass, Lee Morgan, Lennie Tristano and Sonny Rollins, to name just a few. But I dare say that no one has ever before re-imagined this timeless number as a samba. Catch how the sparks fly near the end of this smoking piece, with Zottarelli offering some power-precision fills on the kit in his fiery exchanges of eights with trumpeter Chacón and pianist Guerra.

The spirited blend of styles here is genuinely organic and deeply-rooted. Which is why BOSSA+ is perhaps the best title for this abundantly appealing amalgam of bossa, samba and jazz.

Bill Milkowski is a longtime contributor to Downbeat and Guitar Player magazines. He is also the author of
— Bill Milkowski biographies of Jaco Pastorius, Pat Martino and Michael Brecker brings to the listener 6 all-beautiful original composition and one cover song; delivering a soothing sound to uplift the soul; it's an album that reflects the music and sounds that come from my life experiences, influences, sounds and places.”
it overflows with energy, groove and different Brazilian rhythms.