Leila Pinheiro is one of the most versatile singers from Brazil today. She is equally adept at bossa nova, samba, MPB, ballads and music from the Ary Barroso pre-bossa nova era. Her arrangements are always interesting and she always combines songs together in fascinating juxtapositions and medleys. And as of late she is performing more and more backed up by a full choir.
Coisas do Brasil ("Brazilian Things") is one of Pinheiro's most eclectic offerings. This highly polished and expertly produced album features pianist Cesar Carmargo Mariano as its musical director. The title track is by far the higlight of the album, and Pinheiro and Camargo's duet is without a doubt the most subtly swinging version of this often recorded piece currently availble. I was also particularly taken with the medley titled "Ao Poeta" which includes Carlo Lyra's "Primavera" and "Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas" along with Baden Powell's "Deixa," all of which feature the lyrics of Vinicius de Moraes, the poet laureate of the bossa nova movement and the lyricist of many of Antonio Carlos Jobim's greatest songs.
Composer Ivan Lins is well represented on this album, with Pinheiro presenting a moving interpretation of his "Acalanto" as well as a swinging version of "Sambadouro," a tune most Americans will recognize from Sergio Mendes' version from around the same time period.
The closer, Dori Caymmi's beautiful ballad "Chorar de Mal de Amor," is a nice touch. For sheer sweeping ballads, nobody in the business can match Caymmi, whose music is finally becoming better known to American audiences.
Coisas do Brasil is a must have for fans of Leila Pinheiro, and an excellent introduction for novices to the beauty, sensuality and musicality of one of Brazil's leading divas.