Album Review of
Letters to Grace: A Song Cycle

Written by Joe Ross
July 30, 2018 - 12:00am EDT
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Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Cassio Vianna is a composer/arranger, pianist and educator who is quickly making a big name for himself. Now an Assistant Professor of Music (and Director of Jazz Studies) at Pacific Lutheran University, he heads up the University Jazz Ensemble and teaches jazz courses. All the music, as well as some lyrics, on “Letters to Grace: A Song Cycle” were composed by Vianna.  Lyrics were also written by Lacey Caligure and Donna Henderson. Acoustic guitarist Jose Neto, bassist Wagner Trindade and percussionist Flavio Santos provide a very solid rhythm foundation that allows soloists to shine on such pieces as “Rain Samba” and “Like the First Time.” Besides featuring top-flight musicians on the project, the album is also a showcase for the impressive vocal talent of Sherry Alves who interprets each song with a smooth, silky style and rhythmic buoyancy. Vianna’s Brazilian influences result in relaxing, mesmerizing music that explores such topics as lonely nights, warm hearts, river currents, soulful eyes and the mysteries of time.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)