Ben Sher and Tudo Bem: Please Take Me to Brazil (Me Leva Pro Brasil) (2002)
This excellent album features some of the best Brazilian and American jazz musicians on the scene today. Several of the sidemen, such as pianist Kenny Barron and singer Luciana Souza, are important leaders in their own right. The group is firmly anchored by the great drummer Duduka da Fonseca, who is best known as one third of the virtuoso Trio da Paz.
Featuring well-known bossa nova tunes by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Baden Powell, one American standard ("Our Day Will Come") and a number of originals penned by guitarist Ben Sher and Luciana Souza, Please Take Me to Brazil is one of the most musically satisfying Brazilian oriented CDs to be released in recent years.
The recording of "Wave" is particularly noteworthy, and is performed at a tempo substantially slower, but substantially more effective, than usual. Ben Sher is a fine composer and his "Chorinho Novo" has the feel of authenticity of a choro from the earlier decades of the 20th century.
It is hard to say enough good things about Luciana Souza, who is just beginning to garner the attention her brilliant musicianship deserves. My only complaint about the album is that Ms. Souza does not sing on "Canto de Ossanha" and "O Astronauta." Since those songs were recorded so famously by the late Elis Regina, it would have been nice to hear another equally brilliant performer's interpretations. But this minor cavil aside, this CD is a real gem and exemplifies the best in both Brazilian and American music.
Track Listing: Please Take Me to Brazil (Me Leva Pro Brasil); Wave; Saudade; Quatro Peixes; Our Day Will Come; Agua de Beber; Canto de Ossanha; Chorinho Novo; O Astronauta
Personnel: Ben Sher, guitar; Dennis Irwin, bass; Duduka da Fonseca, drums; Valtinho Anastacio, percussion; Kenny Barron, piano; Luciana Souza, vocals; Adam Kohler, woodwinds; Joe Barbato, accordion; Allen Sher, cello
Record Label: BGI Records