The marriage of bossa novaas joyous and life-affirming as music getsto the catchy, unabashedly cheerful songs of Disney films would seem a logical pairing. Disney Bossa Nova
, a compilation featuring an assemblage of Brazil's best known musical exports, still manages to exceed expectations with its tasteful arrangements and refreshingly understated production.
Do not allow the Disney tag to mislead you: this is not a children's recording, though it would be a fine way to familiarize kids with Brazilian music. It is simply a breezy, happy album, perfect for springtime listening.
The inherent mawkishness of Disney's cartoon features has increased with the passage of time, so it comes as a revelation that the most stirring tunes on this collection are derived from relatively recent films. The compositions have been stripped of their syrupy orchestral backing; the saccharine lyrics have been translated into beautiful-sounding Portuguese.
What remains are the stately and majestic melodies. Edu Lobo's "Circle of Life (here retitled "Ciclo sem Fim ) trades in the comparative bombast of Elton John's original for a sparse, laid-back approach. But the arguable centerpiece of the disc is Ivan Lins' heartfelt and poignant reading of "A Whole New World ("Um Mundo Ideal ). While the instrumental arrangement is the closest the album comes to schmaltz, Lins' emotive vocal performance is passionate enough to wear down even the most cynical of Disney's detractors.
Joyce is the most prominently featured artist, with no fewer than four contributions. Of these, her buoyant adaptations of "You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly! ("Ã€ Voar, Ã€ Voar, Ã€ Voar, from Peter Pan) and "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (from Cinderella) deserve special recognition. Marcos Valle and Patricia Alvi give "It's Not Easy ("Não é Fácil, from Pete's Dragon) a spirited rendition that brings to mind Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina's classic duet "Aguas de Marco.
Disney songs have been recorded by everyone from bluegrass musicians to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. By eschewing the exaggerated production that often afflicts tribute albums, Disney Bossa Nova succeeds where others have failed. Given the elegant musicianship that graces the album, it is regrettable that the liner notes neglect to provide credits for the instrumentalists.
Evidently, an Asian subsidiary of Sony Music is marketing a disc containing several of these performances plus a number of others, including versions of "The Bare Necessities (The Jungle Book), "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Mary Poppins), and the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club. If there is enough such material, a second volume of Disney Bossa Nova would certainly be welcome here in the States.