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Gal Costa & Romero Lubambo Duo at The Blue Note

Ernest Barteldes By

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Gal Costa and Romero Lubambo Duo
Blue Note Jazz Club
November 10, 2009
New York City

For only the second time (the first having been in the fall of 2008), Brazilian singer Gal Costa and guitarist Romero Lubambo shared the stage for an evening that celebrated the music from their native land, nodding specially to the unforgettable 1958-1963 era that spawned bossa nova, arguably the country's best-known contribution to the music of the world.

The set opened with Lubambo, one of the best acoustic jazz guitarists alive today, playing a short instrumental piece that blended elements of classical music, jazz and samba. He then introduced Gal Costa, who came on and immediately started off with "A Falsa Baiana," an Ary Barroso composition made popular by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz on the classic Getz/Gilberto (1964) album, scatting a bit at the tune's end following Lubambo's accomplished solo. The duo followed with a selection of Antonio Carlos Jobim standards, including "Triste," "Chega de Saudade," "Corcovado," "Wave" and "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar," the latter being one of the least-known tunes written during the bossa nova era. The audience, which was comprised of many expatriate Brazilians, sang along with practically every tune.

She also included "Coisa Mais Linda," a tune by Carlos Lyra, another bossa-era composer who is still active as of this writing, which led to a very personal take on the classic American standard "As Time Goes By (the only of two English-language songs on her set).

Things picked up rhythmically with Chico Buarque's "O Samba do Grande Amor," a samba whose lyrics point at the lies ("mentira") that lovers sometimes say to get what they want. Lubambo took advantage of that to perform a lengthily solo that even featured some rock riffs. They kept going with Jobim's "Desafinado" and "Vatapa," a classic Dorival Caymmi number that basically teaches the recipe for making the famous Bahian gravy-like stew that gives the song its title.

One of the most humorous moments on the show was when Lubambo introduced "Camisa Amarela," an Ary Barroso tune that tells the story of a bohemian man who leaves home on the first day of Carnaval and drinks himself into a stupor until Ash Wednesday, when he returns home and resumes his regular life. "The guy is basically a jerk," explained the guitarist, who jokingly added that he'd left Brazil so he could get away from "that kind of lifestyle."

The duo closed the set with three more Brazilian standards, beginning with Jobim's "A Felicidade" (from Black Orpheus),"The Girl From Ipanema" sung in English and Portuguese and finally Ary Barroso's "Brazil," one of the first Brazilian songs to become known to foreign audiences thanks to its inclusion on Walt Disney's 1943 Watercolors of Brazil. Costa has embraced the tune for more than a decade now, and it has become one of her "official" show closers for quite some time now.

Costa and Lubambo were in a great mood that night. They both traded jokes throughout the set, which made for a great overall atmosphere. Costa seemed much more at ease with singing without the backing of a band than she was in October 2008 at the same venue, and it is clear that the two musicians have developed great chemistry together since then. Both were in great shape, and it was a memorable performance, which one hopes to have registered on disc soon.

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