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Album Review

Ivan Lins: My Heart Speaks


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Ivan Lins: My Heart Speaks
My Heart Speaks opens with "Renata Maria," the song of a ravishing woman who emerges from the sea then disappears, leaving her would-be lover to yearn eternally. Ivan Lins composed the piece in 2004 with Chico Buarque in mind (punningly calling it a "Buarquiana brasileira"). Buarque invented the narrative later, presenting his lyric to Lins as a gift, upon the birth of his first grandchild.

Kuno Schmid's score sets the scene. Warm orchestral waves wash over Lins' impassioned voice as he tells the tale, the rhythm section simmering underneath. The setting is reminiscent of Lins' first recording of it, Gilson Peranzzetta's arrangement on Acariocando (EMI, 2006), but more so. The earlier version had strings, but not the big sound of the Tblisi Symphony Orchestra. The recording process lent itself to a compositional layering that works perfectly here. Rhythm tracks were laid down first in LA, then the orchestra recorded in Tblisi and sent their tracks back to LA to be mixed. Schmid wisely eschewed tricky rhythmic interactions between orchestra and jazz ensemble, giving each room to move independently.

The musicians heating the underside of the orchestra are an intriguing mix. Bred and based in California, pianist and musical director Josh Nelson founded an ongoing multimedia collaboration with a live improvisational video mixer, an architect, and a visual artist. Brazilian drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, now based in New York, has a degree in film scoring, performance, and arranging from Berklee. Bassist Carlitos del Puerto learned at the feet of his father, Carlos Del Puerto, founding bassist of the Grammy- winning Cuban jazz band Irakere. Uruguayan guitarist Leonardo Amuedo moved to Rio in 2002 and began working with Lins shortly thereafter. As improvisers, they enhance the project's filmic feel, bridging classical-symphonic and Brazilian-jazz energies. One can imagine how enchanting it must have been to hear the music performed live, as it was in Tblisi in 2022.

The program features several celebrated jazz artists in noteworthy cameos. Dianne Reeves makes a stunning appearance singing the beautiful "The Heart Speaks (Antes e Depois)," a ballad given a new lyric by Jane Monheit for the occasion. Reeves brings the song to life, her voice resonating profoundly in the lower register ("listen to my soul..." [4:07]), crying out higher up ("nothing left to conceal, oh..."). (Check the YouTube below.) Monheit enters the spotlight on "Rio (Rio de Maio)," in an ardent reading of her own free translation of Celso Viáfora's paean to the city. Randy Brecker takes the stage for "Missing Miles," his muted trumpet sensitively complementing Lins' wistful wordless vocals.

Lins' interpretation of one of his few lyrics, "E Isso Acontece (And This Happens)," is a genuine and touching flipside to "Renata Maria"; love is lost, life goes on. "Corpos" (Bodies) is outstanding, and chilling. Written in 1975 with his long-time musical partner lyricist Vitor Martins, it tackles—albeit obliquely—the disappearance of dissidents under the military regime. Sometimes the heart speaks when the tongue cannot.

Track Listing

Renata Maria; The Heart Speaks (Antes e Depois); Não Ha Porque (There’s No Reason Why); I’m Not Alone (Anjo de Mim); Congada Blues; E Isso Acontece (And This Happens); Easy Going; Corpos (Bodies); Missing Miles; Rio (Rio de Maio); Nada Sem Você (Nothing Without You).


Ivan Lins: keyboards; Dianne Reeves: voice / vocals; Jane Monheit: voice / vocals; Tawanda: voice / vocals; Randy Brecker: trumpet.

Album information

Title: My Heart Speaks | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Resonance Records

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On the record

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Jonathan Karrant
Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan
Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio

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