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Gal Costa Live at The Blue Note

Ernest Barteldes By

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Gal Costa
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York City, New York
December 7, 2006


On her second visit to the Blue Note Jazz club in New York, Gal Costa presented pretty much the same selections that she had played during her first visit in the spring of 2006 (the set list was almost in the same order as her CD Live At The Blue Note, released on the DRG label last September). This being the third night of her residence, her voice was already showing signs of fatigue; she did, however, turn on the charm, locking eyes with the patrons who were sitting in the front row and also turning around and facing those sitting in awkward places inside the club.

She opened with "Fotografia" and "Desafinado" (both Jobim compositions), and stated that she was very happy to return to this small venue (on her previous tours, she had played in places like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center), and felt that this intimate setting was like performing "in my living room."

Costa then introduced "Chega de Saudade" (No More Blues), the song that de facto began the bossa nova craze in Brazil as well as Stateside (it was Joao Gilberto's first single, released in 1959). "This song changed my life, and changed music in Brazil," she said before the band kicked in.

One of the highlights of the show was "I Fall In Love Too Easily," a song popularized by Chet Baker (it was also recorded by Frank Sinatra and more recently by Tony Bennett), whose work Costa is paying tribute to on an upcoming album. She seems very comfortable singing in English (which she has done since the beginning of her career), even though she admits that her English skills "are not that great."

One crowd favorite is "Nada Além," a song written by the late Mario Lago that features solely the accompaniment of bassist Jurim Moreira and finger snaps from the audience; the singalong session for the bilingual version of "The Girl from Ipanema" was also repeated, even though the iconic tune has just been played too much.

The only new tune was "Chora Tua Tristeza" (Cry to Your Sadness), an obscure Dorival Caymmi song that has never been committed to disc by Costa herself. The lyrics speak of a Baiana who cries of a love long lost.

It was the consensus of the members of our party that Costa seemed a little jaded on this occasion; perhaps the novelty of playing small rooms has already worn thin for her (she also played the Blue Note's sister venues in Japan not too long ago) and, despite her charm, her great interpretative skills and her smiles, her eyes showed that she couldn't wait to end her obligation. We felt the same when we joined several die-hard fans and ventured upstairs to meet her; she obligingly signed autographs and posed for pictures, but one sensed that deep inside all she longed for was to head back to her Manhattan apartment; interview requests by journalists in attendance were bluntly turned down.

Her personal priorities did not, however, affect her performance; she entertained her audience well, and the applause she received was well deserved.


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