It is never easy to record repertory music, especially when it is so familiar because of the personality and character of the composers who are associated, but there have been some noteworthy successes in the past. But thankfully, despite multiple failures by many musicians, some outstanding artists have not been outdone by the difficulty of making famous charts their own. The latest to attempt and overcome all challenges successfully is the extraordinary Brazilian chanteuse Carol Saboya. Her album, Belezas—The Music of Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento is an outstanding testament to both her own artistry and the enduring legacy of the two Brazilian legends whom she honours on this record.
Saboya is one of the newest in a long line of wonderful Brazilian singers. The purity of her diction and the pristine nature of her inflection, coupled with her soaring and soulful expression are the reasons she stands apart from many other vocalists both inside Brazil. For this reason she is also one of the most recognizable Brazilian vocalists outside that majestic country. The practice and young legacy of her art might easily draw comparisons with other legendary musicians of the Brazilian MPB movement such as Rita Lee, Gal Costa, Marissa Monte, and in some of the slow, aching passages of her music (such as “Anima” on this album), even Elis Regina.
Attempting to create a repertory of classic music from Brazil is not new. Much of the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and that of João Gilberto has already become the classic repertoire of modern American music. The music of the great musicians of the MPB movement is relatively unknown although both Nascimento and Lins draw large audiences when they perform in the US. Also, jazz musicians such as the great Wayne Shorter have paid homage to Milton Nascimento quite frequently. But Saboya’s tribute may be one of the most substantial yet. But more than anything she has dug deep into the soul of the music and has extracted the immense beauty that lies within. Her extraordinary renditions of “Anima” and “Doce Presença” are among the most beautiful music by any musician Brazilian or otherwise. However, for the purposes of this exercise in preserving the majesty of the originals, few renditions can compare with the sweeping grandeur of Saboya’s versions and thus the preservation of classic Brazilian music.
Then there are the spectacular efforts of the musicians accompanying her, which make this record so memorable. Her father, the pianist and producer of this and other albums is one of the main reasons why Saboya has made such an impact on the world of music. He is an exacting artist who has never played a wrong note; is an astute listener and a gracious leader and thus he is only too happy to let his daughter shine. Guitarist Claudio Spiewak is just as wonderful as Adolfo in his choice of notes and phrases. Bassist Jorge Helder and percussion colourist add gorgeous shades to the music. Finally, Dave Liebman, who guests on “Tristesse” and “Tarde”, is spectacular in his sensitivity and the beautiful narrative of his solos on soprano and tenor saxophones and Hendrik Meurkens is equally outstanding in the manner in which he embodies the Brazilian “saudade”.
Tracks: Bola De Meia, Bola De Gude (Sock Ball And Marbles); Who Is In Love Here (A Noite); Abre Alas (Open The Way); Tristesse; Beleza E Canção (Beauty And Song); Anima; Soberana Rosa (She Walks This Earth); Doce Presença (Sweetest Presence); Tarde (Evening); Tres Pontas (Tres Pontas Town); Velas Içadas (Hoisted Sails); Estrela Guia (Oh, Shining Star).
Personnel: Carol Saboya: vocals; Antonio Adolfo: piano; Claudio Spiewak: acoustic and electric guitars; Jorge Helder: double bass; Rafael Barata: drums and percussion; Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone (4), tenor saxophone (9); Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica (8).