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Marisa Monte at Strathmore Music Center

Marisa Monte at Strathmore Music Center

Courtesy Leo Aversa

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Marisa Monte
Strathmore Music Center
Bethesda, MD
March 10, 2022

Marisa Monte is a legendary Brazilian artist whose output moves effortlessly across multiple genres and who possesses both a stunningly subtle voice and a decidedly refined musical sensibility. All of these qualities were evident in her show in the Washington, DC area at the stately Strathmore Music Center.

For those unfamiliar with Marisa's music, it can be quite a challenge to neatly sum it up. She is able to compose highly refined yet accessible music which manages to combine harmonic sophistication with melodic immediacy without sacrificing widespread popular appeal. One encounters elements of samba, Brazilian MPB, jazz, classical instrumentation and arrangements as well as rock flourishes all expertly assimilated.

The list of musicians with whom she has collaborated is indicative of this wide range, virtually unheard of in a performer who reaches such large audiences. Caetano Veloso, David Byrne, Jorge Drexler, John Zorn, Philip Glass, Arto Lindsay and Marc Ribot count themselves among her many well-known collaborators worldwide.

Monte's current tour includes a wide range of her classic compositions as well as features from her latest album, Portas (Sony Music, 2021) available in a beautiful limited edition CD exclusively at her live shows. The 8-piece band boasts a three man horn section featuring trombonist Antonio Neves who have made very intriguing rearrangements of many of Monte's classic tunes. The often close voicings from the horns are perhaps more reminiscent of arrangements from Maria Schneider or Gil Evans in their added flourishes of modernism and dissonance than anything in the world of popular music today and manage to coexist with all the melodic and rhythmic immediacy of the pieces.

Monte herself is a moving and subtle vocalist whose voice is fully integrated into the ensemble which features all the musicians singly and collectively as much as it does her own voice and comfortable stage persona. Monte's striking presence is augmented by a wide range of beautiful costume changes, all done on stage, and supported by tasteful supporting visual media as well.

Longtime fans were ecstatic to hear classics ranging from the past 30 years such as "Beija eu and Ainda lembro" as well as the title track, "Portas." The concert ended appropriately enough with a moving a cappella version of Monte's "Bem que se quis," itself a poignant reworking of Italian great Pino Daniele's "E po' che fa.'"

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