Since the late '60s, Brazilian guitarist and singer Joyce Moreno has been one of the most iconic members of the MPB movement, pushing the envelope way past the traditional bossa novas of Jobim. In the early '80s, albums such as Feminina and brought Joyce an international following that she continues to enjoy to this day. Her sizeable catalog features a diverse collection of original material, not to mention key collaborations with such heavyweights as Jon Hendricks, Joao Donato, Kenny Werner, Sivuca, and many others.
For the most part, Joyce sings in her native Portuguese, but is known to deliver a song or two in English on occasion. Having spent a time in the United States, she recorded two albums in the early '90s for Verve that featured a smattering of tunes sung in English. In 1995, she released the album Delirios De Orfeu, which featured the jazz standards "Speak Low" and "There's a Small Hotel." These few precursors would only hint at the approach she has taken to her newest offering, a set of all jazz standards sung exclusively in English.
Sparsely accompanied by pianist Helio Alves, bassist Rodolfo Stroeter, and drummer Tutty Moreno, Joyce tackles a dozen Tin Pan Alley and vintage jazz classics all in her inimitable style. Three Cole Porter trinkets make the cut, namely "Love for Sale," "Let's Do It," and "You Do Something to Me." On the jazzier side, there's Monk's "'Round Midnight," "Invitation," and "My Favorite Things." Much in keeping with its title, there's a relaxed and seductive vibe to the entire set that is undeniably beguiling.
Joyce is at the forefront of these arrangements with her understated guitar and vocals, although Alves get a chance to step out a few times. A particularly jaunty version of "Cool" from West Side Story demonstrates the pianist's tasteful accompaniment and includes a crystalline solo moment as well. Particularly musical and tender, Tutty's finger taps on his drum kit add character to the usually corny "Fever." Another threadbare pop tune, "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)," rises above the mundane with some great harmonics by bassist Stroeter.
Wordless vocals are utilized on "'Round Midnight," "My Favorite Things" and the Joyce original "Mingus, Miles, & Coltrane" to great effect. Multi-tracking and additional voices establish a rich and profound vibe on "Nature Boy" as Joyce improvises over Alves' piano riff. A seductive and reflective "Moon River" closes out the set with singer and her guitar acapella. Although definitely a departure from her usual modus operandi, Cool can easily hold its own among Joyce's singularly expressive and impressive body of work.
Love for Sale; Fever; Cool; Day-O (The Banana Boat Song); Let's Do It;
'Round Midnight; Invitation; The Shadow of Your Smile; Mingus, Miles &
Coltrane; You Do Something to Me; Nature Boy; My Favorite Things; Moon