Maria de Barros hails from the Cape Verde Islands, the home of Cesaria Evora, where a rich confluence of African, European and Latin American cultures have blended together since time immemorial. She is definitely more of a “pop” singer than the barefoot diva Evora. Her singing conveys the same sort of relaxed charm that was Astrud Gilberto’s hallmark, and of course the rhythms are often reminiscent of Brazil’s musics. Ms. de Barros is a chanteuse for the new century, fusing a modern spirit to very old song forms.
Cape Verdean musical forms ( mornas, coladeiras and the like) are still somewhat foreign to Western ears, requiring one to evaluate the material against what is known of its antecedents. In that light, this music is a true melting pot: the accordion and strummed guitars of “Cabo Verde N’ot Era” carry an Argentine air; “Regresa” has an almost cumbia feel; Ron Kalina’s harmonica reminds one of Toots Thielemans in a Latin context; Ramon Flores’ trumpet wails like Harry James on “Me Nada Um Ca Tem.” The feeling is uniformly warm, serene and good-spirited, a nice after-dinner drink for the ears.
De Barros’ vocal delivery is comfortable, almost matter-of-fact. She feels no need to hit the rafters or swing; such flourishes would be anathema to this sort of music, even if she does modernize it in bits and pieces. Highlights include her duet with Ismael Gallegos on “La Gloria Eres Tu,” the upbeat title track, and the tender rendition of Luis Bonfa’s “Manha de Carnaval” which closes the disc. An absolute must for fans of Evora and Latin music of all colors.
Personnel: Maria de Barros, vocals; Grecco Buratto, Dicki Tavares, Djoska Lopes, Jon Booth, guitars,
cavaquinhos; Ramon Stagnaro, guitar solos; Ramon Flores, trumpet; Erin Jorgensen, trombone;
Ray Herman, tenor & alto saxes; Frank Morocco, accordion; Ron Kalina, harmonica; Leo
Chelyapov, clarinet; Eric Gorfain, violin solos; Joe Ketendjian, Marina Manukian, Sarkis
Gyurgchyan, Hakob Mekinyan, Igor Kistachi, Ana Landauer, violins; Jorge Moraga, Harry Shirinian,
violas; Giovanna Moraga, cello; Djim Job, Mel Wilson (7 only), bass; Carlos "Kal