A huge nod to this live recording of cellist Yo-Yo Ma's latest world music excursion. This great musical ambassador, who previously brought us the music of the Silk Road, France and Appalachia, here joins Brazilian vocalist/guitarist Rosa Passos, joyful Cuban clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera, guitarist/composers Sérgio and Odair Assad, pianist Kathryn Stott, bassist Nilson Matta and percussionist Cyro Baptista for over 72 minutes of music and audience appreciation from Carnegie Hall's new Zankel Hall. The sound isn't as rich as on the Grammy-winning studio venture of the same name, but neither are Passos' voice nor any of the other instruments over-hyped. Instead we've got the real thing -- gorgeous, spontaneous and generous in its musicianship.
Passos sings on four tracks. In addition to many pieces by Antonio Carlos Jobim, two cuts by D'Rivera, and tracks by Egberto Gismonti and Sérgio Assad, we're treated to three reinterpretations of the music of the great Astor Piazzolla (classically trained by Nadia Boulanger in Paris before she sent him back home to write the tangos that were in his blood).
Brazilian music has a sound all its own, one that affirms the vast beauty and mystery of our multi-colored universe. For opening our eyes and enlarging our vocabulary, it deserves lots of room on your shelf.
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Rosa Passos & Ron Carter
Entre Amigos/Among Friends Chesky Records
Brazilian vocalist and guitarist Rosa Passos made a huge impact on the American public when she appeared on one track of cellist Yo-Yo Ma's Grammy-winning crossover excursion into Brazilian music, Obrigado Brazil. Her cool, understated singing, with its seductively soft intensity and soul-breathed edge seemed perfect for the two tracks by Antonio Carlos Jobim heard on that disc. It is therefore a delight to discover this superb artist lending her voice to all eleven tracks of this superbly recorded CD from audiophile label/jazz specialist Chesky.
Passos is in fine company. No less a luminary than the superb bassist Ron Carter joins her. With Lula performing the guitar solos, Paulo Braga on an assortment of cleanly recorded, remarkably lifelike percussion, and Billy Drewes on tenor sax and clarinet, we are treated to musicianship of the highest order. Their reinterpretation of Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes' "Garota de Ipanema" ("The Girl from Ipanema") must be heard.
Seven of the tracks are by Jobim, with others by Noel Rosa, Bide and Marcal, Garoto and Luis Claudio, and Dennis Brian. The music is consistently seductive, communicating the warmth of the Brazilian rainforest and the mystery of the country's strong spiritualist tradition. Though lamentably lacking translations, the Portuguese texts' emotional essence, wedded to music sometimes cool yet warm to the touch, speaks louder than words. This is a great disc.