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Joyce Moreno: Cool

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Cool is the album that Brazilian singer-songwriter Joyce Moreno simply refused to make for decades. "For over 20 years I've been requested to make an album with North American jazz standards. Nothing against it, but I always said no," she explains. "I had the strange feeling that such an album would look weird in my discography, too commercial—like I didn't have any new tricks up my sleeve, and yes, I always have plenty. Music has never ceased to bless me with new ideas and new tunes. So why on earth should I embark on such a trip?"

"The answer came to me during a soundcheck when I started playing, just for fun, a Cole Porter song in a different way," Moreno continues. "The song was 'Love For Sale,' a song about a demimondaine—a hooker, in short. But then this afoxé groove came up, and, all of a sudden, Cole Porter's call girl became a hooker from Bahia. And I thought, 'Man, these tunes can be rearranged and be really fun!'"

Moreno's spry Brazilian workout of "Love for Sale" became the first track on Cool, which also features her percussive, syncopated up-tempo take on another Porter classic, "Let's Do It." But it's the slow and soft songs that turn up the heat throughout. Curiously quiet yet vibrant and steamy, this reconstructed "Fever" emerges as a tropical Brazilian jungle. "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" transforms into a lonesome guitar ballad, her voice floating on the phrase "Day-O" as light as moonlight, with drums and piano slowly creeping into her accompaniment like daybreak silently but steadily overgrowing darkness. She again whispers this contemplative mood in the echoes of "'Round Midnight."

Moreno can thank the composers' pantheon of Mandel, Mancini and Mercer for Cool's most brilliant moments. In her self-accompanied rumination on "Moon River," her vocal and guitar illuminate the beauty in every corner of a melody and lyric that needs no help to sound perfect. She pours out this same mood in "The Shadow of Your Smile." "I used the original chart given to me by author Johnny Mandel himself (years ago he invited me to one of his projects and we interacted musically)," Moreno explains. "But in order to expose the beauty of this song—sometimes looked at as a bit too mellow, performed with exaggerated sentimentalism—I opted for the 'extra-slow' mode and sang it as cool as I possibly could."

"This album was my own arranger's approach to these jazz standards," Moreno's liner notes conclude. "I had a lot of fun doing it. I hope listeners will feel the same."

Track Listing: Love For Sale; Fever; Cool; Day-O (The Banana Boat Song); Let’s Do It Let’s Fall In Love; Round Midnight; Invitation; The Shadow of Your Smile; Mingus, Miles and Coltrane; You Do Something To Me; Nature Boy; My Favorite Things; Moon River.

Personnel: Joyce Moreno: vocals, guitar, arrangements; Tutty Moreno: drums, percussion; Helio Alves: piano; Rodolfo Stroeter: bass; Tomaz Andrade: vocals; Anna Coelho: vocals; André Miranda: vocals.

Title: Cool | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Far Out Recordings

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CD/LP/Track Review
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