December 30, 2004
Buy at Sweep Records
Dia Novo is a solo album from LILT Records that features Hiroto Saitoh, Toshikazu Saitoh, and Kayoko Maeda. The concept of this album was to take some of Hiroto Saitoh’s favorite bossa nova songs and arrange them in a variety of styles. Is it a successful transformation?
Although the album features mainly Hiroto Saitoh as the arranger, two guest contributors are featured. Toshikazu Saitoh contributes one arrangement to the album. His arrangement of “Chega de Saudade,” originally composed by Antonio Carlos Jobin and Vinicius de Moraes, features vocals by Apaco, who is featured on much of this album as the vocalist. The overall style still carries with it a bossa nova style but with a jazzy electronic focus in the melody. I’m not sure how transformational it is — a statement that can go with the rest of the album as well — but it’s definitely a fun, entertaining piece with a fantastic melody and mood.
The other guest contributor, Kayoko Maeda, arranges, with the help of Hiroto Saitoh in the additional rhythm and effects department, “Berimbau,” originally composed by Baden Powell. This is one of my favorite arrangements on this album. It’s got a nice jazzy vibe, but for the most part, it’s a smooth house mix with some definitive R&B influences. It just really gets you in the mood to relax, but at the same time, provides a ton of energy, although subtly, as well.
The rest of the arrangements feature Apaco as vocalist and Hiroto Saitoh as the arranger. The album itself opens up with “Samba do Aviao,” originally composed by Antonio Carlos Jobin and Vinicius de Moraes, and features a very technopop vibe. It’s an upbeat piece with some fantastic electronic effects, a great rhythm and energy, and some fantastic big brass sounds. It’s a fantastic way to open up the album and really draws the listener in. The next arrangement by Saitoh, “Imagina,” was originally composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Chico Buarque. I really think this is an interesting arrangement as it has a jazzy atmosphere, but the style is more in the style of a waltz. It creates a very magical atmosphere and induces the images of two love-struck dancers. It’s such a beautiful theme and probably my favorite of the Saitoh arrangements on the album.
“Batacuda,” originally composed by Marcos and Paulo Valle, has a bit of a funk/big brass vibe going on it combined with a bit of smooth jazz offerings. The rhythm accompaniment is upbeat and energetic, but I really think the layering of the instruments and the piano runs and flute passages strewn throughout the piece really make this one worth a listen. Lastly, “Latina,” originally composed by Em Praia, closes off the album. Opening with the sound of crashing waves and beautiful acoustic guitar, played by Apaco, the musical flavor of Central America is already infused in the listener’s mind. As the piece progresses, some harmonica is thrown into the mix. In the end, it’s a very simple, straightforward arrangement, and a calming way to end the album, but at the same time, it’s also the weakest arrangement on the entire album.
In the end, I think this is another successful solo album. Although I’m unfamiliar with the originals, I think the bossa nova infused arrangements really bring about a really entertaining listen. The contributions by the guest arrangers are fantastic and I really like what Saitoh did with most of his. For those fearing vocals that are traditionally expected of Japanese female vocalists, fear not. These are far from the kawaii vocals you normally run from. Definitely pick this up if you have a chance.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.