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Bebel Gilberto: New York City, NY, July 21, 2012

Ernest Barteldes By

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Bebel Gilberto
Brazil Summerfest at Central Park Summerstage
July 21, 2012
New York, NY

As part of the 2012 edition of Brazil Summerfest, a New York city-wide event of contemporary Brazilian music, singer Bebel Gilberto took to the stage at Rumsey Playfield for the second time in her career, following a very eclectic performance by singer Criolo, making his US debut.

Backed by a solid quintet formed mostly by musicians from Forro in The Dark, Gilberto kicked off the proceedings with an up-tempo take on "Sem Contenção," from Tanto Tempo (Six Degrees, 2000). The arrangement was quite different from the studio recording, focusing mostly on the percussive sounds of conguero Davi Vieira and drummer Adriano Santos. Gilberto kept the energy up and encouraged the audience to sing along with her scatting of "Farofa, Farofa," towards the end of the song. She followed that with "Simplesmente," a ballad from her 2004 follow-up, Bebel Gilberto (Six Degrees).

Though the set list mostly concentrated on her two first albums, there were a few surprises, such as a bossa take on Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" and a very personal rendition of "Barato Total," a Tropicalismo-era tune written by Gilberto Gil, originally recorded by singer Gal Costa in the early '70s. The song was well-received, and she stated that the song was a personal favorite that she first heard when she was nine years old. There were precious few individual moments for the backing band, save for a brief saxophone solo from Jorge Continentino on Joao Donato's "Bananeira" towards the end of the show, and emphasis on the percussion during Carlinhos Brown's "Aganjú."

Gilberto was in great form and showed great chemistry with her band and the audience. She finished the set with "Close Your Eyes," but surprisingly came back for a short encore—very unusual at Summerstage due to strict time constraints—featuring two bossas: "So Nice (Summer Samba)," with English lyrics; and Vinicius de Morais' early bossa-era song "Samba da Benção," co-written with guitarist Baden Powell.

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