New Jersey born Kiko has lived in Portugal for most of his young life and has established a reputation as a fine vocalist there. On this debut recording, he covers a wide stylistic palette, from Ellington to Tom Waits, and generally impresses. Though he has a range and timbre sometimes reminiscent of John Pizarrelli, he stretches for Al Jarreau’s vocal elasticity. He may not always get there, but give him points for the stretching. Aided by an extremely impressive band of Paulo Gomes (piano), Pedro Barreiros (bass), Paulo Pinto (guitar), Bruno Pedroso (drums), and Laurent Filipe (trumpet), Kiko opens the set with his weakest number, Stevie Wonder’s "Overjoyed." Fortunately, he is much more relaxed and, therefore, convincing with Filipe’s hip "What’s the Use of It?" Electric guitar contrasts against vocals, which contrasts against rhythm. There is a superb interchange between muted trumpet and piano giving the piece an articulate and intelligent feel. Though the disc is in the singer’s name, he gives plenty space to his fellow musicians. On "Lazy Afternoon," the bass, drums and guitar paint a moody picture over which Kiko sails. He is completely in his element and wholly impressive on the composition. Ditto his versions of "Save Your Love for Me" and "How Deep Is the Ocean," on which his phrasing is precise and his timing tight. Here is where he shines and the promise of a successful career seems most likely. "Everything Happens to Me" has a feel similar to Harry Connick, Jr., while he and the band stretch out deliciously on a finger-snapping version of Ellington’s "In a Mellow Tone." Tom Wait’ "Blue Valentine" proves itself too tricky for the vocalist, but he redeems himself with Ellington’s "Day Dream," a showcase for the Duke’s violinist Ray Nance about 40 years before Kiko was born. His sings a convincing moody and dreamy lyric over the band’s magic. The closing "I Get a Kick Out of You," which is kicked into a quick tempo, is well executed by all.
A solid debut, this serves as a teaser for what the singer is capable of. More care with song selection might improve the overall impression next time around. He certainly has the voice and the technique. That his band is nothing less that extraordinary is a plus, too.