Various Artists | Tom Feminino/Tom Masculino

Universal (2008)
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  October 22, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
Historians have settled on 1958 as the official birth year of bossa nova — which means the immediately recognizable genre that put Brazilian music on the world’s hi-fi during the Kennedy era is turning 50. And that’s the occasion for a showcase of the immortal artistry of the great founding triumvirate of Jobim, Gilberto, and Vinícius. These two compilations of female and male singers addressing the Jobim songbook span five decades of idiosyncratic interpretations by a galaxy of mostly Brazilian stars. (The only two gringas in the mix are Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, so it’s all good.) Feminino kicks off with the unusual bossa funk of Elis Regina’s “Estrada do sol” (producers: sample alert), and it finds room for an unusually deconstructed “Garota de Ipanema” by Marina, Norman Ganz’s 1980 swinging (or coked-up) supper-club arrangement of “Favela” for Ella, and Sylvia Telles’s easy-listening “Bonita.” The boys are well represented with Caetano Veloso’s simple, loose-guitar-and-voice “Eu sei que vou te amar,” the gender-bending Ney Matogrosso stretching the definition of “masculino” with a heartbreaking piano take on the love song from the Gabriela soundtrack (only slightly tarnished by a Kenny G–esque clarinet), and a mesmerizing “Dindi” by Lúcio Alves, one of the most distinctive, influential, and underrated vocalists of the bossa period. The world might have preferred Sérgio Mendes’s jet-setting versions, but listen to Leny Andrade’s smoky “Samba do avião” (from a live 1963 recording) and you’ll experience Brazilian jazz in its natural setting: a dark club in a third-world Interzona as the Cold War raged on. Covertly, of course.
Related: Diana Krall | Quiet Nights, Best in their field, The rise of reggaeton, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Leny Andrade,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   IAN KING | PANIC GRASS AND FEVER FEW  |  March 16, 2010
    Just a few weeks after we reviewed the belated release of African Head Charge's latest, another, more recent gem from the always rewarding sonic laboratory of Adrian Sherwood arrives.
  •   JOE CUBA | EL ALCALDE DEL BARRIO  |  March 09, 2010
    Fania kicks off 2010 with what is sure to end up being one of the year's most important archival releases of Latin music.
  •   ALEJANDRO FRANOV | DIGITARIA  |  March 03, 2010
    Alejandro Franov is an Argentine multi-instrumentalist who's been involved in the more serious, and often experimental, side of the Buenos Aires music scene since he was a teen in the late 1980s.
  •   THE SOULJAZZ ORCHESTRA | RISING SUN  |  February 23, 2010
    We're living in the middle of a veritable renaissance of "Spiritual Jazz."
    UK dub guru Adrian Sherwood and adventurous percussionist Bonjo I have been releasing their sonic experiments as African Head Charge since the early 1980s.

 See all articles by: GUSTAVO TURNER