Astrud Gilberto: Jungle (2002)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

An enchanting new set that is sure to please her longtime fans. Aside from a catastrophic (but thankfully short) sidestep into disco in the mid-70s, Ms. Gilberto has not deviated much from the formula that made her world-famous in the bossa-nova era. Her voice, instantly recognizable from a number of Stan Getz crossover classics, has changed very little and retains most of its original warmth and charm. She composed all but two of the tracks here, and while all the music has an unmistakably retro air about it, the disc is infectiously entertaining for those who love the old Getz glory days.

The first voice heard is actually that of percussionist Valtinho, wailing “Xangô, Xangô” before Ms. Gilberto’s silken lilt emerges. Soon enough she wraps that voice around your heart until it’s all over, baby, and you’re back with Stan and João in ‘63. “In Spite of the Odds” is a lovely ballad sung in the company of John Margolis; “Xaxado do Safado”, a blissfully cheesy soft-shoe novelty that lingers in the mind for hours; “Red Umbrella”, a delicious jaunt over a skulking Stray Cats rhythm that should be in the repertoire of lounge singers everywhere. Luis Bonilla and Hendrik Meurkens are excellent additions to the cast, daubing on ideal colorations, and co-producer Lambert’s guitar on “Red Umbrella” pleasingly recalls Steely Dan.

There are only a few down-spots to this release, mostly the rather wanky keyboards on “É Só Me Pedir” and the unflattering, butt-homely artwork. The odd radio-voice effect on “Rebola, bola” grows more appealing on repeat spins, as does the pooting disco drive of “The Look of Love”. All things considered, Jungle is a marvelous return to form for one of jazz’ most bewitching and unique performers. Highly recommended. (http://www.astrudgilberto.com)

Track Listing: Jungle (Xang

Personnel: Astrud Gilberto, vocals; Kimson Plaut, piano and accordion; Gregory Jones, bass; Magrus, drums, vocals; Mark Lambert, guitars and guitar synth, vocals; Valtinho, percussion, vocals; Luis Bonilla, trombone and whistling; Carol Chaikin, alto and soprano saxes; Cliff Korman, synths; Hendrik Meurkens, harmonica; John Margolis, vocals (#4).

Record Label: Magya Productions

Style: Vocal


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