Just as there's never enough big band music and never can be, the same holds true of South of the Border modes, especially samba, bossa, and ilk. There's such a huge streak of artful timelessness in each style that the compositions defy the aging process, become immortal. Emily Tseng's work, however, brings a new dynamism to her dominantly Brazilian work, infusing the latterday elementality of Azymuth (Bertrami, Conti, Malheiros) into the instrumental sections as she floats above. And the singer sure as hell picked the right arrangers (Leonardo Lucini, Matvei Sigalov, Marcos Silva—with Lucini and Sigalov also proving to be masters of their instruments, bass and guitar respectively) 'cause every cut of Sonho swings with pronounced vibrancy.
All but a few of the cuts are sung in Brazilian, but one of the remaining numbers, her take on the Mamas & Papas' California Dreamin' is an exercise in taking the symphonic nature of the original down into a very personal and much more melancholy, yet enticing, version. If the nuances in Brazilian linguistics might be a tad lost to the listener not familiar with the tongue's subtleties, California Dreamin' alternately fully invests Tseng's careful attention to her art and craft, every note perfect, each declension and variation extremely well placed.
You need this kind of music in these increasingly troubled times, as it provides therapeutic escape and bouncily day-dreamy adventure amid daunting musical values. Every member of the ten-man back-up is dexterous and possessed of the kind of drop-dead perfection that invested Brubeck, Desmond, Hubbard, and etc. Those of us in the Baby Boomer generation who dug Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 will find one hell of a lot more here, indexing Tseng's CD with the work of the masters (Gil, Gilbert, Lani Hall, Basia, and so on). It's that well imbued with a full-blooded understanding of the array of universals inherent in the region's brilliance.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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