The road that connects Brazilian music and jazzthe essential thematic nexus on this collaborative venture that brings bassist Ron Carter (and his quartet), vocalist Vitoria Maldonado, Ruria Duprat's Brasilian Orchestra, and a handful of guest soloists into the same line of thinkinghas always been a two way street, as both forms benefit and borrow from one another. Those on the jazz side have often found new harmonic angles to explore, gently undulating rhythms to coast upon, and beautiful songs built with extreme sensitivity in the Brazilian canon; and those on the Brazilian side have reveled in the opportunity to inject the unexpected into set forms and bring swing rhythms into contact with songs from their native land. All of those aspects born of the comfortable union between the two are audible in the material presented on this easy-on-the-ears date.
Carter and his quartet get first billing here, but they typically play second fiddle to the co-headliner. Maldonado's voicea sweet, expression-rich instrumentis at the center of these performances. She sings in English, Portuguese, French, and wordless forms; she sways with the bossa beats, soars with spirit, and seduces in soft environs; and she evinces the beauty and positive spirit connected to the meaning of the acronym in the album's title"Love, Inspiration, Knowledge, Energy." Her greatest strengths seem to be connected to standards with a bossa twist and material endemic to Brazil. Soulful suggestions ("Georgia On My Mind") and swinging sections of music don't suit Maldonado nearly as well as fully Brazilian-ized American standards ("How High The Moon," "There Will Never Be Another You") or star-kissed beauties born of her own mind ("Adoro O Teu Sorriso"), but she manages just fine in every setting.
While the spotlight remains focused on Maldonado for much of this program, Carter and his bandmates are able to shine, both as soloists and support players. Percussionist Rolando Morales-Matos
and drummer Payton Crossley
get the album rolling with some exciting exchanges ("They Can't Take That Away From Me") and provide steady rhythmic framework for others to build around; pianist Renee Rosnes
proves to be a tremendous asset, capable of mesmerizing when she steps forwards ("How High The Moon"), providing a harmonic compass for all to follow, accentuating the mood of a song, or fading into the distance when need be; and Carter remains a model of class, support, and musicality. The bassist-leader is always focused on "finding the right notes," to borrow the title phrase of his biography, and that search always yields stellar results. Whether soloing, interacting with Maldonado, or anchoring the ensemble, Carter comes off as the consummate artist and professional. And then there are the guests to admire. Randy Brecker
's flugelhorn graces a single track, Marcos Mincov's English horn adds achingly beautiful commentary to two Maldonado originals, and several other notables, like guitarist Roberto Menescal
, step into the mix at one time or another.
Those looking to hear Carter and company let loose in a small group setting will be better served by going elsewhere, but those who see the appeal of a beautifully-shaped program that puts singer, small group, orchestra, and guests on near-equal footing will likely enjoy getting lost in this music.
They Can't Take That Away From Me; There Will Never Be Another You; Night And Day; I Only Have Eyes For You; How High The Moon; Adoro O Teu Sorriso; All Of Me; Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours (I Wish You Love); Georgia On My Mind; Someone To Light Up My Life; Lugar Comum; Because You Make Me Dream; Saudade.
Vitoria Maldonado: vocals; Ron Carter: bass; Renee Rosnes: piano; Rolando Morales-Matos: percussion; Payton Crossley: drums; Roberto Menescal: guitar; Marcos Mincov: English horn; Toninho Ferragutti: accordion; Omar Izar: harmonica; Randy Brecker: flugelhorn; Proveta: alto saxophone; Ruria Duprat: arrangements, conductiong; Ruria Duprat’s Brasilian Orchestra—Luiz Britto Passos Amato: violin; Alex Braga Ximenes: violin; Otavio Scoss Nicolai: violin; Andrea Araujo Campos: violin; Nadilson Gama: violin; Flavio Geraldini: violin; Adriano Mello: violin; Marcos Henrique Scheffel: violin; Maria Fernandez Zagatto Krug: violin; Paulo Calligopoulos: violin; Heitor Fujinami: violin; Matthew Thorpe: violin; Alexandre Zappelini De Leon: viola; Elisa De Lina Do Rego Montiero: viola; Roberta Lizandra Marcinowski: viola; Fabio Tagliaferri: viola; Adriana Cristina De Barros Holtz: cello; Gustavo Pinto Lessa: cell; Patricia Mendonca Ribiero: cello; Maria Eduarda Leitao Canabarro: cello; Mario Sergio Rocha: French horn; Vagner Reboucas Da Silva: French horn; Rogerio Carvalho Martinez: French horn; Vitori Ferreira Neves: French horn; Marco Antonio Cancello: flute; Michel De Paula: flute; Clarissa Lapolla Bomfim Andrade: flute; Carlso Marcelo Nogueira Barboza: flute.