FAME Review: Carmen Cuesta - Mi Bossa Nova
Carmen Cuesta - Mi Bossa Nova

Mi Bossa Nova

Carmen Cuesta

Available by download from emusic.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Bossa nova is one of the world's truly timeless musics. It's not that other styles don't survive, they do, but when cases come down to, say, madrigal or Gregorian chant, well, it's pretty obvious we're listening to dated forms. Not so with bossa. One can hardly imagine it aging in the least even 200 years from now, and that's why the celebrated aesthetic has managed to stand unaffected even under assaults by acid jazzineers. The form is so much its own that you have to follow its dictates or end up stranded in left field. Antonio Carlos Jobim looms largest in the catalogue of pioneers, and singer Carmen Cuesta and crew devoted the lion's share of Mi Bossa Nova to his work, in the process adding a fine release to a lineage that can always accommodate more.

It stands to reason, then, in a mode marked by established tempos and such, that a singer must carry both explicit and subtle inflections in order to establish territory. Cuesta possesses exquisite control in a refined and well schooled timbre, perhaps best shown early, in Retrato em Branco e Petro, the third cut, where her exposition both soars and whispers, gains sudden emphatic passion and then recedes to wistful nuance, Chuck Loeb underscoring the mid-range in a tasty middle eight solo. The bouncier follower, O Barquinho, contrasts the myriad emotional shades Cuesta imbued Retrato with, Barquinho much more a larksong of gentle river flow and afternoon breezes. Among the 11 cuts, she adds two compositions entirely her own, songs you'd be hard pressed to identify as other than 235% in the tradition.

Cuesta and Loeb have been working on this repertoire since 2008 -- though they formed a group, Paralelo, years earlier—and toured the concept in a 20-date East Coast journey that met with enthusiastic reception. Mi Bossa Nova is music to sip liqeuer by, comfy with a loved other, settling in for an evening of warmth and fellow feeling, happy to let the cares of the world disappear for a while and mellow out with a group of consummate artists. There are the sad Dindi type numbers, such as Modinha (the term actually refers to a type of sentimental love song that arose in the late 1700s in either Brazil or Portugal), that are willingly part and parcel of the reflection of life and love, the two central-most topics of boss nova. Cuesta does a superb job of evoking either misty eyes or serene joy in existence, and Mi Bossa Nova is guaranteed to have you putting the business brief and pots and pans aside for a reminiscence of days you probably haven't harkened back to for a while. Don't fight the urge to sway and smile, drifting away to tropic climes and exotic nights under the stars; you deserve it.

Track List:

  • Triste (A.C. Jobim)
  • Fotografia (A.C. Jobim)
  • Retrato em Branco e Prieto (Jobim / de Hollanda)
  • O Barquinho (Boscoli / Batalha)
  • Pois E (Jobim / Buarque)
  • Jobim (Carmen Cuesta)
  • Modinha (Jobim / de Moraes)
  • Tormento (Carmen Cuesta)
  • Manha de Carnival (Bonfa / Creatore / de Moraes)
  • Chega de Suadade Meditacao (Jobim / Mendonca / Gimbel)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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