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Back to Brazil: Part Three

Mark Holston By

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Ribeiro, who wrote or co-authored eight of the session's 10 tracks, is an exceptionally talented young vocalist. She can nonchalantly pivot from steady, angelic pure tones to emotion-packed scatting and vocalese in a flash. At times she appropriates the essence of Gal Costa's crystalline upper register vocalizing while elsewhere she captures the yearning sensuality and carefully calibrated vibrato of Jane Monheit. The use of a large vocal chorus on several tracks, a staple arranging technique of vintage MPB sessions, effective substitutes for a string section. The choice of guest accordion and harmonica players, who add the rhythmic zest of Brazil's impoverished but culturally distinctive northeast, also pays dividends. On "Voa," with Brazilian accordionist Vitor Gonçalves punctuating the arrangement's jaunty, Baião-inspired rhythmic pulse, the influence of such Brazilian master composers as Edu Lobo and Egberto Gismonti is confirmed. "Sotaque" is rollicking and loaded with hip, insider cultural references, while romantic balladry reigns on "O Meu Chão É Um Tapete" and "If You Knew," with Ribeiro singing in English. Lunga is thoroughly captivating—a true minor masterpiece.
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