Marco Figueira’s debut album, Brazilliance
, features a guest list that includes saxophonist and flautist Oscar Feldman and renowned composer Eumir Deodato, who is responsible for the string arrangements. A decent collection of originals and popular standards, Brazilliance
makes good use of its talented ensemble but it doesn’t quite live up to its bombastic title. There is nothing that revitalizes the genre the way Vinicius Cantuária has. There is also very little that can wholly match the intimacy and poetry of Jobim and the other composers whose work can be found here, such as Milton Nascimento and João Bosco. As on the opening song “Vem Cá,” Figueira and his collaborative partner on Brazilliance
, Paulo André Tavares, occasionally take an electric approach to Brazilian jazz, giving the songs a debatable New Age feel. Tracks like “Olho de Peixe” and “Aluamania” that go without this affectation make for great listening and are all the better for it.
His rendition of Jobim’s “Corcovado (Quiet Nights)” and the Menescal/Boscoli chart “O Barquinho” are nothing particularly new, and Figueira’s nasal English vocals on “Corcovado” irritate more than they soothe. He tries to drag words across the preceding or succeeding bar for the sake of variation, but this is something even Sinatra couldn’t always pull off. Figueira is more at home with the scat-like rapidity of “Preta-Porter de Tafetá.”
For Brazilian jazz fans looking for a solid contemporary remake of some familiar bossa nova standards mixed in with a bit of enjoyable fresh material, Brazilliance ought to fit the bill. But there are definite alternatives, namely When Baden Meets Trane , by another artist on the new Blue Toucan label, pianist Glauco Sagebin.
For more Blue Toucan reviews, please see Toucan Play That Jazz Game .