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A little bit of magic is evident in the recording Primavera by the Portuguese-born-now-New Yorkers Sara Serpa and Andre Matos. Not magic as in sleight of hand or illusion, but magical as in enchanting and, indeed, spellbinding. The musical pair, also wife and husband, created this duo recording with the help of some of their own overdubs (again, not a trick) and a few guests.
Serpa, whose seemingly uncomplicated vocal style, mates both wordless sounds with sung lyrics that are presented both in English and Portuguese. These fourteen compositions are all original to Serpa and Matos, except for Ran Blake and Jeanne Lee's "Vanguard" and Guillermo Klein's "Se Me Va La Voz." Serpa recorded two previous discs with her mentor, Blake. The pianist favors Serpa's stripped-down approach on Camera Obscura (Inner Circle, 2010) and a live date Aurora (Clean Feed, 2012). She maintains that understated style here. With Matos' accompaniment and a bit of Fender Rhodes piano, she sings the words of e.e.cummings' poem "Earth." The piece is part prayer, part utopian dreamland. Where other singers rush in, Serpa lingers. The echoey, wordless open track flutters like a a flock birds over Matos' incessant guitar. The pair welcome Greg Osby to perform on "Choro." Serpa had recorded with the saxophonist on his disc 9 Levels (Inner Circle, 2008), and here he returns the favor. Osby's soprano saxophone mimics the singer's wordless vocalese; both instruments are loquacious birds singing up in the forest's canopy. Serpa and Matos create rhythmically locomotive music, "Kubana," and ineffably beautiful Portuguese pieces, "Tempo" and "O Guardador De Rebanhos." But it is the wordless tracks, like 'Rios" and "Nuvem," that are the real gems here.
Track Listing: Primavera; Tempo; Rios; Choro; Kubana; Song For A Sister; Caminho; O
Rebanhos; A Realidade Das Coisas; nuvem; Vanguard; Gardening; Se Me Va
La Voz; Earth.
Personnel: Sara Serpa: voice, fender rhodes, piano; André Matos: guitar, electric
bass, cymbal; Greg
Osby; soprano saxophone (4); Leo Genovese; melodica, kosikas, bombo
leguero, piano, toy
guitar; Pete Rende: Prophet keyboard (7).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.