How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Kevyn Lettau is one of the most versatile singers around and this album shows off her many talents to great benefit. Although best known as a mainstay of “smooth jazz” radio station rotations, Lettau possesses solid jazz chops and is a gifted Anglo interpreter of Brazilian music.
Indeed, the Brazilian-influenced tunes on this album are the most inspired cuts. The samba arrangement of “Forever Lovers and Friends” is one of the best recorded versions of that song currently available. “Nana das Aquas,” an up-tempo samba composed by Joao Donato, is performed wonderfully by Lettau who sings in both Portuguese and English. Joni Mitchell’s “People’s Parties” receives an unusual samba arrangement that is reminiscent of the rhythms of Brazil’s African-influenced Northeast.
Lettau’s also displays her versatility in the gospel-influenced “Miracle of Love” which features a backup chorus and organ/piano accompaniment typical of that genre. A number of the cuts on the album, “We Know the Way By Heart” and “Spring,” are pop oriented but they are still performed in an interesting Brazilian-influenced manner. “Simple Life,” the album’s title track, is a slow narration of love lost or gone bad that is worthy of joining the ranks of more-commonly performed torch songs.
The album ends with a beautiful rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” performed by just the singer and acoustic bass. In this spare setting the purity of Kevyn Lettau’s voice shines through brilliantly. It is a voice that has few rivals anywhere on the jazz and pop scenes today.
Track Listing: We Know the Way by Heart; Forever Lover and Friend; Sunlight; Nana das Aguas; Simple Life; People's Parties; Homeless Person Interlude; Take a Look; Miracle of Love; Baby Crying; Will They Know; Spring; Out of Town; Prelude to a Kiss
Personnel: Kevyn Lettau, vocals; Tom Aros, percussion; Drew Von Buseck,vocals;
Bill Cantos, vocals, keyboards, piano; Jill Cohn, vocals; Luis Conte, percussion, conductor; Luis Conti, percussion; Brad Dutz, percussion;
Nathan East, vocals, bass, fretless fass guitar; Iris Ibarcena, vocals; Megumi Matsuura, vocals; Scott Mayo, vocals, alto saxophone, flute, tenor saxophone; Valerie Mayo, vocals; James Miller, vocals;
Chris Morrison, vocals; Lou Pardini, vocals, piano; Ana Robles, vocals; Michael Shapiro, drums, percussion; Chris Trujillo, percussion; Sunny Wilkinson, vocals; Justo Almario, flute; Brian Bromberg, acoustic bass, bass; Carl Burnett, electric guitar, guitar;
Dori Caymmi, acoustic guitar; James East, bass, bass guitar; Pedro Eustache, alto flute, bansuri, bass, bass flute; Russell Ferrante, keyboards, organ; Tony "Ham" Guerrero, flugelhorn, horn, trumpet; Kleber Jorge, acoustic guitar; Jeff Kashiwa, flute, horn, saxophone;
Gary Meek, tenor saxophone; Ken Rarick, keyboards, synthesizer; Randy Tico, bass guitar; Jerry Watts, bass guitar