O Melhor de - Bencao is an excellent compilation album of some of Leila Pinheiro's best known recordings, assembled from albums released over the last decade. Those not familiar with Brazilian music beyond the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim and the recordings of Sergio Mendes would do well to consider this album as a starting point for further exploration of that country's music.
Guilherme Arantes is one excellent composer whose works are represented here. His often recorded "Coisas do Brasil" ("Brazilian Things") receives a funkier reading than one normally hears, mainly resulting from the intrepid piano work and arrangement of Cesar Camargo Mariano. "Bom Humor" ("Good Humor"), also by Arantes, is a beautiful slow bossa nova in the best tradition of Jobim, Moraes and company.
The slow, bolero-like song "Besame," by Flavio Venturini and Murilo Antunes, features a guitar and accordion dominated orchestration which pays homage to the music of Brazil's northern regions.
One especially nice feature of the album is the inclusion of the song medley "Lobo bobo"/"Saudade fez um Samba"/"Voce e eu"/"Se e trade me perdoa." Pinheiro, an extremely gifted singer, can shift emotional and stylistic gears at a moment's notice. Her intensely intelligent vocal style is ideally suited to the song medley (indeed, her early album Bencao Bossa Nova is a collection of song medleys), and here we get to hear one of Brazil's greatest singers at the top of her form.
For more on Leila Pinheiro, please see her official web site .