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Masha Campagne: Like Water, Like Air

Dan Bilawsky By

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Vocalist Masha Campagne may hail from Moscow and live in San Francisco, but she's a Brazilian at heart. Campagne, who first encountered jazz through her musical grandfather's record collection and performances, left her native land and settled in the Bay Area in the early '90s. She took in all of the aural wonders of the area, performing, teaching and absorbing music, and eventually gained some well-deserved recognition, winning a Downbeat Student Music Award. This opened some doors, leading to important performing opportunities at high-profile places like Yoshi's and the Monterey Jazz Festival, but her name didn't really reach beyond this locale until she released Caminhos Cruzados-Crossroads (Impetus, 2007).

That intriguing debut paired Campagne with pianist Weber Iago, who served as a stellar artistic sounding board and accompanist, and this team reunites for her sophomore date. The Brazilian music-plus-a-standard-or-two formula that worked the first time around is utilized again, but the end result is markedly different. This album has a greater textural and timbral spread than its predecessor, spotlights Campagne as a composer in a few places, and features the inimitable harmonica/vibraphone ace Hendrik Meurkens and guitarist/composer Guinga. Meurkens' harmonica, while scarce, brings a breezy uplift to the music ("Outra Vez") and his vibraphone fills out the sound of the ensemble. Guinga proves to be a sensitive and tasteful accompanist ("Exasperada").

Sultry pop-jazz, bouncy samba-esque music, intimate encounters and swinging fare cross paths during this eleven song program. Campagne sings over guitar, bass clarinet and cuica ("No Fundo Do Rio"), floats atop a warm background of Fender Rhodes and vibraphone ("Mystery Unwrapped"), trims things back to piano and voice ("I Can See You Now"), and produces some high energy music with a solid band behind her ("Se E Tarde Me Perdoa"). Her Portuguese and English are equally intoxicating and, while her Russian roots audibly surface on occasion, the slight accent actually adds depth and breadth to her artistry.

Female vocalists working the Brazilian-jazz seam aren't exactly a rarity these days, but Campagne manages to stand apart from the pack with her own broad-viewed take on this theme.

Track Listing: It Could Happen To You; Outra Vez; Broke But Rich; No Fundo Do Rio; Invitation; My Heart Was Lost & Found For You; Exasperada; Like Water, Like Air; Se E Tarde Me Perdoa; Mystery Unwrapped; I can See You Now.

Personnel: Masha Campagne: vocals; Guinga: acoustic guitar (4, 7), spoken word (4); Hendrik Meurkens: vibraphone (3, 10), harmonica (2, 8); Weber Iago: piano, Fender Rhodes; Harvey Wainapel: bass clarinet (4), alto saxophone (9); Jeff Buenz: electric guitar (5), nylon string guitar (2, 8); Dan Robbins: acoustic bass, electric bass; Jason Lewis: drums; Michael Spiro: percussion (5, 9); Guello: percussion (4).

Title: Like Water, Like Air | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Impetus Records

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