Dutch singer Josee Koning is not very well known in the United States, but she is definitely in the deserving of greater recognition category. She is a specialist in Brazilian bossa nova and MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira), and she sings in Portuguese like a native Brazilian. In fact, her excellent website, www.joseekoning.com
, is available in Dutch, Portuguese and English.
Dois Mundos features a wide sampling of the very best in contemporary Brazilian music, including songs composed by Ivan Lins, Caetano Veloso, Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque, and the Caymmis. Ivan Lins and Dori Caymmi are also guest artists on the album and perform on half of the tracks.
Ivan Lins accounts for five of the thirteen songs included on the album, and Ms. Koning is as fine an interpreter of Lins' music as the immortal Elis Regina and contemporary Brazilian singers such as Leila Pinheiro. I defy anyone in a blindfold test to listen to Konig's performance of "Doce Presenca" ("Sweet Presence") and say that it is not by a native speaker of Portuguese. And as is the case with almost every citizen of the Netherlands, Koning's English is exceptional, as witnessed on her performance of Dori Caymmi's "Colors of Joy."
There are a few songs on this album that most people will recognize, such as Lins' "Começar de Novo" ("Starting Again") and Chico Buarque's "Coracão Vagabundo" ("Vagabond Heart"), but there are a number of unexpected pleasures. I was particularly taken with Konig's rendition of Lins' "Aparecida," a melancholy tune based on a real-life story about a woman who disappears. The subtle word play, in which "Diz, Aparecida" ("Speak, Aparecida") is reminiscent of "desaparacer," the Portuguese word for "disappear," only serves to heighten the emotional intensity of the song.
Dois Mundos is a great album and Josee Koning is a truly great talent who literally bridges the "two worlds" of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Perfect intonation, perfect enunciation, perfect musical sense. Koning has it all.
Personnel: Josee Koning, vocals; Leonardo Amuedo, guitar; Hans Vroomans, piano, keyboards; Boudewijn Lucas, bass; Enrique Firpi, drums, percussion; Ivan Lins, vocals and piano; Dori Caymmi, vocals and guitar; Alaor Soares, berimbau