By the time the 60s rolled into the 70s, Ivan Lins came to the attention of Brasilian audiences. Then a college student whose prodigious gifts were as a composer and singer, who also played the piano, Mr Lins – who also protested the military junta of the time – gave notice that he was also one of the premier troubadours of the country. Such was his melodic and harmonic genius that Herbie Mann put Mr Lins on par with George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers, with intimations of Ravel and Debussy.
George Duke was similarly impressed and suggested he [Mr Lins] was indeed the Michel Legrand of his generation. Over the years, with his lyricist Vitor Martins, and an impressive body of work suggests that this assessment, far from being a hyperbolic one, is richly deserved even today. The repertoire on this album, appropriately entitled My Heart Speaks is further proof of Mr Lins genius.
The producer George Klabin has rightfully tapped into this “troubadour” character of Mr Lins music. On this album Mr Klabin has brought Mr Lins together with a super constellation of musical stars and including special guests such as vocalists Jane Monheit, Dianne Reeves and his [Mr Klabin’s own protégé], Tawanda, and the inimitable trumpeter Randy Brecker, a musician with, arguably, a most eloquent feel for Brasilian melodicism. Best of all the producer and brains behind Resonance Records brought in the great Kuno Schmid to orchestrate Mr Lins’ timeless music, each work the very epitomé of that untranslatable Brasilian word: saudade.
Featuring beautifully crafted arrangements [Mr Schmid’s stamp all over them as much as Mr Lins’ is] of beguiling variety and sensuousness, in every lovingly crafted phrase of My Heart Speaks, Mr Lins’ gift for ethereally beautiful ballads shines brightly. The chosen material, almost one or two exceptions [notably Renata Maria, with Chico Buarque and Corpos, with the great lyricist, Mr Martins], focuses on lesser known gems associated with Mr Lins.
Listening to the way in which Mr Lins seductively bends notes in Renata Maria and Corpos, and how he sculpts the long invention in vocalise on Nada Sem Você, it’s clear that there’s not a single semiquaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered. The album also features a rhythm section [largely favoured in recent times by Resonance] of pianist Josh Nelson and drummer and percussionist Mauricio Zottarelli, now with the addition of bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, together with guitarist Leo Amuedo and members of the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra in the mix, the musicians are completely attuned to Mr Lins’ artistry [and Mr Klabin’s vision for this album].
Dianne Reeves delivers an evocative almost gospel-soaked vocal on the title track. Tawanda is lustrous on her interpretation of Anjo de Mim. And Jane Monheit’s mellifluous timbre beguiles in the spacious, balletic arrangement of Rio de Maio. Meanwhile Randy Brecker delivers a solo on Missing Miles that is high and lonesome and full of loping elliptical lines full of spectral longing that suggests that the trumpeter is, indeed, a vocalist on his gleaming brass instrument.
This is a superbly produced recording full of memorable moments from start to finish that leaves you wanting for more. It is also a reminder that Mr Lins is truly one of the most magical troubadours of our time.
YouTube Audio – Ivan Lins: Congada Blues
Music – 1: Renata Maria; 2: Antes e Depois [The Heart Speaks]; 3: Não Há Poque [There’s No Reason Why]; 4: Anjo de Mim [I’m Not Alone]; 5: Congada Blues; 6: E Isso Acontece [And This Happens]; 7: Easy Going; 8: Corpos [Bodies]; 9: Missing Miles; 10: Rio; Nada Sem Você [Nothing Without You].
Musicians – Ivan Lins: vocals; Josh Nelson: piano; Leo Amuedo: guitar; Carlitos Del Puerto: contrabass; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums and percussion; Special Guests – Dianne Reeves: vocals ; Tawanda: vocals ; Randy Brecker: trumpet ; Jane Monheit: vocals; Kuno Schmid: arrangements; Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra.
Released – 2023
Label – Resonance Records [RCD 1040]
Runtime – 52:35
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