Chico Buarque —
Caravanas ... CD BiscoitoFino (Brazil), 2017. New Copy ...
That's an aging Chico Buarque on the cover, still looking cooler than anyone else around – and sounding the same on this wonderful record! Buarque was one of the first of an important new generation of Brazilian songwriters to emerge in the 60s – and unlike some of the others, who've maybe lost steam over the years, Chico continues to grow and evolve – really shaping his music to different modes as the years go on, and never failing to give us his all with each new recording! This set's got a beautifully personal vibe – mostly Buarque's still-wonderful voice alongside his own acoustic guitar – augmented by other instrumentation, but in ways that still really leave the master at the forefront – with a level of songwriting and performance that's completely mesmerizing. Titles include "Tua Cantiga", "Massarandupio", "Dueto", "As Caravanas", "Desaforos", "Casualmente", and "Jogo De Bola". CD
The cover image makes it look like Carminho's a contemporary of Antonio Carlos Jobim – but she's actually a much younger artist – a great contemporary fado vocalist, who serves up some very unusual readings of classic songs by the bossa legend! Carminho's way of phrasing is very different than most bossa nova singers – filled with more expressive elements at times, but never in a way that overwhelms the music – just shifts it into a space that's all her own, even amidst faithful arrangements by Paulo Jobim, who plays guitar on the record along with Daniel Jobim on piano and Jaques Morelenbaum on cello. With that instrumental pedigree, you can guess the care that went into the session – and Carminho's unique approach really makes for a special album – one that's way more than just another rehash of Jobim's compositions. The set features guest appearances from Marias Monte, Chico Buarque, and Maria Bethania – and titles include "O Que Tinha De Ser", "Estrada Do Sol", "Triste", "Falando De Amor", "Wave", "Sabia", "Luiza", "Modinha", A Felicidade", and "O Grande Amor". CD
A nice little live set that follows off the same sort of energy as the studio album Estratoferica – which has Gal Costa coming across with a more youthful vibe than she's had in years! As with that record, Gal's working here with a group of younger musicians – players who bring more rock currents to the music than you might expect, with especially strong use of electric guitar and keyboards – which Costa matches with a surprising degree of power in her voice! The tunes are pretty straightforward – no Tropicalia experiments here –but the overall approach still feels more 70s MPB than much of Gal's more recent material. Titles include "Meu Nome E Gal", "Estratosferica", "Por Um Fio", "Cabelo", "Quando Voce Olha Pra Ela", "Casca", "Dez Anjos", "Nao Identificado", "Mal Secreto", "Ecstasy", "Os Alquimistas Estao Chegando", and "Por Baixo". CD
A nice little live set that follows off the same sort of energy as the studio album Estratoferica – which has Gal Costa coming across with a more youthful vibe than she's had in years! As with that record, Gal's working here with a group of younger musicians – players who bring more rock currents to the music than you might expect, with especially strong use of electric guitar and keyboards – which Costa matches with a surprising degree of power in her voice! The tunes are pretty straightforward – no Tropicalia experiments here –but the overall approach still feels more 70s MPB than much of Gal's more recent material. Titles include "Meu Nome E Gal", "Estratosferica", "Por Um Fio", "Cabelo", "Quando Voce Olha Pra Ela", "Casca", "Dez Anjos", "Nao Identificado", "Mal Secreto", "Ecstasy", "Os Alquimistas Estao Chegando", and "Por Baixo". DVD
Fantastic – maybe the most incredible Milton Nascimento album we've ever heard – and one that's completely different, too! Sure, Brazilian singers have been paying tribute to Milton almost from the moment of his first recordings – but this really unique session finds a way to put the songs in a completely different perspective, but at a level that somehow seems to open up the soul and power of Nascimento's music even more! The album features just cello from Jaques Morelenbaum and vocals from Zelia Duncan – a great singer, but who who moves us more here than ever before – sounding incredibly powerful next to the cello, which is handled with all the amazing ear for color, tone, and space that we've always loved from Jaques. A truly incredible album – far more even than the sum of its already-amazing parts – with groundbreaking versions of "Caxanga", "O Que Sera", "Ponta De Areia", "San Vincente", "O Que Foi Feito Devera", "Misterios", "Travessia", "Cravo E Canela", and "Cais". CD
Igor Eca pays tribute to his father – Luiz Eca, one of our favorite Brazilian arrangers of all time! Most folks know Luiz as the pianist and guiding force behind the Tamba Trio – but he's also got a legacy of songwriting, instrumentation, and musical creation that go beyond his recordings with that group – beautifully revived here by the younger Eca on bass, with help from an all-star lineup that includes Toninho Horta on guitar and vocals, Mauro Senise on flute and soprano sax, Itamar Assiere on piano, and Edu Lobo on vocals! Most titles are remakes of key compositions by Luiz Eca – and the style of the album is wonderful – like some of Eca's best work in the post-Tamba years. Titles include "Dolphin", "Imagem", "Alegria De Viver", "Tamba", "Buzios", "Mestre Bimba", and "Reencontro". CD
Gilberto Gil, Nando Reis, & Gal Costa —
Trinca De Ases ... CD BiscoitoFino (Brazil), 2018. New Copy 2CD ...
Three Brazilian musical giants – all coming together in a live setting – and presented in a way that reminds us of some of the great collaborative MPB projects of the 70s! All three artists participate vocally – taking verses alone and together, and frequently trading lines or sharing lyrics – all set to well-crafted backings handled by Gilberto Gil and Nando Reis – with this fantastic collaborative spirit that stands as part of that great legacy of Brazilian music – a field of true giants who are always willing to put their egos aside in a way that so many Anglo musicians still haven't discovered! The sound here is wonderful – far more than the sum of its already-great parts – on titles that include "Perola Negra", "Baby", "All Star", "Palco", "Trinca De Ases", "Dupla De As", "Retiros Espirituais", "Barato Total", "A Gente Precisa Ver O Luar", "Por Onde Andei", and "Nos Barracos Da Cidade". CD
The lovely Joyce – sounding lovelier here than we've heard in years – on a special Japanese album that really takes the singer back to her best classic territory! Backing is by a small group, and nicely jazzy – with piano from Helio Alves, and drums from Tutty Moreno – providing gentle accompaniment, but really letting the lady stretch out on her own vocals and acoustic guitar – with those soaring, cascading lines that first made us fall in love with her music way back in the 70s – captured perfectly here with impeccable, understated production. Alves notes on the piano are especially beautiful – ringing out in a way that really offsets the vocals and guitar – on titles that include "Mingus, Miles, & Coltrane", "Humaita", "No Misterio Do Samba", "Sambando No Apocalipse", "Casa Da Flor", "Na 75", "Ave Maria Serena", and "Forrobodo Das Meninas". CD
Edu Lobo/Romero Lubambo/Mauro Senise —
Dos Navegantes ... CD BiscoitoFino (Brazil), 2017. New Copy ...
Beautiful sounds throughout – and exactly the kind of record that shows why the right sort of Brazilian music can be so different than anything else on this planet – not really jazz, not really folk, nor straightforward pop – but the kind of special sounds that define a genre unto themselves! The record's a warmly collaborative effort from the trio of Romero Lubambo on guitar, Mauro Senise on saxes and flute, and the great Edu Lobo on voice and compositions – songs pulled from his decades-long contribution to Brazilian music, given a very special, very personal performance by the group! Lobo always had a way of balancing up-close performance with loftier arrangements – and here, that latter side of his music is pulled away, to bring the singer even more strongly into the limelight – as he gets very warm accompaniment from both of the other lead players. The set also features some guest work from Cristovao Bastos on piano, Bruno Aguilar on bass, and Mingo Araujo on percussion – and titles include "Toada", "A Morte De Zambi", "Gingado Dobrado", "Considerando", "Dos Navegantes", and "O Circo Mistico". CD
A fantastic tribute to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim – and, as you'd expect from the duo of Paula and Jacques Morelenbaum, a set that's got a very unique flavor overall! The Morelenbaums have always been committed to the little sounds, the simple moments that have made Brazilian music wonderful from the bossa years onward – an approach that found important early flowering in the music of Jobim – and which is recast here in a very special way by the pair. These aren't simple bossa cover versions, nor slavish reworkings of the tunes – and instead, they get very unusual delivery from a trio that features Jacques on cello, plus guitar and drums – instrumentation that really underscores some of the bluer elements in the tunes, with Jacques' "voice" as important as Paula's interpretation of the lyrics. Titles include "Gabriela", "Vivo Sonhando", "Retrato Em Branco E Preto", "Aguas De Marco", "Modinha", "Maracatuesday", and "Eu E O Meu Amor/Lamento No Morro". CD
A sublime meeting of these four legendary Brazilian talents – singers and musicians we're not used to hearing in each others' company, but who feel here as if they've been working together for a lifetime! The approach is beautiful – as each singer also plays a bit of acoustic guitar – in a setting that has shifting voices and guitar parts cascading through a wonderful array of tunes – sometimes in ways that create very resonant harmonies, sometimes with a more isolated feel that's more in a classic bossa mode. There's a warmth and spontaneity to the music that really comes through – this is no staid meeting of top talents – and the whole thing's better than we even might have expected, and maybe even better than most recent albums by some of these artists too. Titles include "Favela", "Nega Dina", "Picotado", "Toada", "Voce Voce", "Sinha Sinho", "O Mais Que Perfeito", "Vapor Barato", "Catavento E Girassol", and "Cachaca Arvore E Bandeira". CD
A lovely tribute to the musical pairing of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius De Moraes – by a trio of artists who are certainly familiar with their music! Wanda Sa has been singing bossa nova since the 60s, and while she's made a number of recent albums in a bossa mode, she sounds even deeper and more complex here amidst the moody instrumentation of Gilson Peranzzetta on piano and Mauro Senise on alto sax and flute – both musicians who've also done their share of arranging over the years, and have a great way of making things sound both sophisticated and swinging at the same time. Most of the tunes just feature the addition of Zeca Assumpcao on bass, Joao Cortez on drums, and Nelson Varia on guitars – and the mode is a nice change from some of Wanda's later projects with Roberto Menescal. Titles include "O Grande Amor", "O Que Tinha De Ser", "Amor Em Paz", "Canta Canta Mais", "Frevo", "E Preciso Dizer Adeus", "Brigas Nunca Mais", and "Janelas Abertas". CD
Monica Salmaso —
Caipira ... CD BiscoitoFino (Brazil), 2017. New Copy ...
Monica Salmaso works here with some really lovely instrumentation – a bit of bass flute, some accordion, and even a bit of clarinet – all instruments that really give the record a unique sort of vibe! There's almost an updated version of the choro taking place here – but one that's got the much more introspective approach that Monica brings to her music – a mode inspired by jazz vocals, and a more personal singer/songwriter approach – used in a style that's gentle, but very effective – and underscored in just the right way by the small combo instrumentation. The approach is in that best BiscoitoFino mix of sophistication and understatement – and titles include "Saira", "Baile Perfumado", "Alvoradinha", "Acude Verde", "Bom Dia", "Caipira", and "Primeira Estrela De Prata". CD
The music of Vinicius De Moraes, presented here in a beautiful collaboration between Francis and Olivia Hime – in a manner that has the older Hime playing piano and singing alongside Olivia, with a personal warmth that really gets at the poetry in the music of Vinicius! Both Himes were close friends with Vinicius, and that warmth really shows through in their presentation here – full of feeling, but without ever being overdone – that careful balance of emotion that made the poet's lyrics one of the most important forces in bossa nova. Titles include "Canto De Ossanha", "O Grande Amor", "Valsa De Euridice", "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar", "Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Voce", "Anoiteceu", "Primavera", "Samba Pra Vinicius", and "Labareda". CD