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Brazil and Argentina are rivals in soccer and basketball. And the people speak different languages: Portuguese and Spanish. However, there's one remarkable young singer who defies cross-border feuds. Gabriela Anders was born in Argentina, has embraced the music of Brazil and resides in the United States. Her multi-nationalism is reflected in her music. This is brought to light with Last Tango in Rio , the long-awaited North American follow-up to Wanting.
Born into a family of musicians, Anders listened closely to her father, jazz saxophonist Jorge Anders, who appears on the new album. She also studied classical guitar and piano in her native Buenos Aires. "There were so many influences when I was growing up, and I wanted to do something with them all," Anders says. "My father's concerts and studio work certainly affected me, as did the music of Brazil; it's harmonically rich and so interesting melodically."
After high school, Anders decided to continue her musical studies in New York and, after a short while, she began doing studio and club work. Her rising prominence on those scenes led to two recording projects with top producer Sergio George. Through him, she had the opportunity to sing for Grover Washington Jr., Marc Anthony and Celia Cruz. She's also recorded or performed with Rick Braun, George Duke and Eric Benet. Anders was part of the highly acclaimed Casino Lights '99 , a two-disc set recorded during the Montreux Jazz Festival, and she continues a journey of musical excellence and introspection with Eclectica , a collection of Brazilian, R&B and jazz-influenced songs, and Latina , an all-Spanish adventure.
On Last Tango in Rio , Anders offers original material, some jazz standards and a tribute to her native city. "Abracadabra," the second track, is a definitive example. Anders mixes a bossa nova rhythm with a European flavor and jazz seasonings for a song equally suited for sitting back and listening, or getting up and dancing.
She follows that with a modern interpretation of "Our Love Is Here to Stay," a good song that's even better when the performer adopts it as if it were her own. That's a treatment Anders gives to the other standards as well, offering an upbeat, percussive rendering of "God Bless the Child," helped along by sharp bass lines by John Benitez, percussion and drum play by Portinho, and Gabriel Rivano on the bandoneon, a typical Argentine instrument.
Still, with all the excellent musicianship, it's Anders' voice that makes this record. The listener may easily be swept away, feeling a personal connection with the singer as she croons here and scats there. Anders is as enchanting as she is multicultural. And just when you get used to her softer side, she brings on the funk with "The Buenos Aires Mix," a saucy, sassy, nocturnal beat.
Last Tango in Rio is a long overdue presentation from one of contemporary jazz's most enchanting voices.
Track Listing: You Go To My Head, Abracadabra, Our Love Is Here to Stay, God Bless the Child, If Only, The Buenos Aires Mix, All of Me, Body and Soul, Meant to Be, 'Til the End of Time
Note: On some discs, the track If Only is titled Embrace Me; Body and Soul is track 7, with All Your Love as track 8.
Personnel: Gabriela Anders, keyboards and all vocals; Donald Edwards, drums; Wayne Krantz, guitars; John Benitez, bass; H. Martignon, keyboards; Olga Terlitsky, viola; Tito Castro and Gabriel Rivano, bandoneon; Jorge Alfano, Andean flute and charango; Jorge Anders, saxophone; Portinho, drums and percussion; Romero Lubambo, guitar