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Guida Vargas: Cal

Jim Santella By

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Combining the various sounds of Brazil, Angola, South Africa, and Portugal into one original session would seem like a difficult circumstance. It comes naturally to this ensemble, however, since their earliest musical experiences have included all this and more.

Singer Guida Vargas is from Angola. Her mother is from Portugal and her father from Brazil. Saxophonist William Ramsay hails from South Africa. The duo collaborated on these eleven original compositions and Vargas wrote the Portuguese lyrics. English translations are included in the liner booklet.

Sambas, bossas, tangos, and universal rhythms guide the ensemble through lovely tales of longing, parting, working, dreaming, dancing, suffering, conquering, and discovering all things natural. Karimba, berimbau, cuica, and hand drums surround the singer with pastoral scenery that envelops her delicate alto voice and searches for vulnerabilities. Ramsay’s soft-hued tenor saxophone and sprightly flute dance seamlessly around Vargas’ passionate interpretations.

Providing considerable variety in the program, Vargas and Ramsay change the structure of the ensemble to suit each piece. “Calúlú” and “Eterna,” for instance, feature a full ensemble with trombone and flugelhorn, creating deep harmonic colors to match the descriptive tales. “Alguém Contou” and “A Paz é Uma Pomba” pare down the group somewhat so that more exotic native instrumental sounds can be emphasized. “Indio” and “Eu Sou Música” offer the impression of a small band of serenaders, strolling lazily along beaches where the ocean’s waves do no more than stroke the sand gently all day long. This recommended album ends with a lovely ballad arrangement that combines mainstream jazz currents with universal music elements from around the world.

For audio samples and more information, visit www.guidavargas.com .


Title: Cal | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Independent Records


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