Leila Pinheiro and Joyce are better musicians; Gal Costa is better looking; and Luciana Souza has a more distinctive stylebut in last half century of Brazilian popular music, there has been no singer who could compare with the ineffable qualities that made Elis Regina a legend in her own time.
Live in Montreux documents of Elis Regina's performance at the 1979 Montreux Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band led by her husband, the legendary Brazilian pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano and featuring guest performer Hermeto Pascoal on piano and vocals.
The album starts off with Joao Bosco's "Cobra Criada," a funky samba that features five minutes of Camargo's piano before Regina enters. The dynamic range of this song is amazing, ranging from barely perceptible whispers to the rhythmic thunder of a Carnival samba school parade. And if this wasn't enough, Regina and company turn it up another notch by segueing seamlessly into a breathless performance of Baden Powell's "Cai Dentro."
Especially noteworthy is Regina's rendition of Ivan Lins' "Madalena," which has since become an anthem of the MPB and post-bossa nova era. This oft-recorded work was first championed by Regina, and her interpretation is particularly moving and telling. For heart-breaking pathos, however, nothing can beat Regina's emotionally-charged performance of Ary Barroso's beautiful ballad "Na Baixa do Sapateiro" accompanied by Camargo on the Fender Rhodes.
Sheer musical magic is apparent in Regina's collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal for performances of Jobim's "Corcovado" and "Garota de Ipanema" as well as Luis Gonzaga's "Asa Branca."
Elis Regina would only live three years after this performance, ultimately dying of drug addiction. The cracks in the vocal apparatus are already apparent on this album: a weakness in the upper tessitura and a raspiness to the voice that was exacerbated by cocaine and heroin. But the musicality and wit always remained, and for that we should all be glad that Elis Regina left behind such a voluminous body of recorded work.
Personnel: Elis Regina, vocals; Cesar Camargo Mariano, keyboards; Helio Delmiro,
guitar; Luizao, bass; Paulinho Braga, drums; Chico Batera, percussion;
Hermeto Pascoal, piano, vocals