Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Maria Rita/City Winery

Bossa Nova, Jazz, Pop, Samba, Vocal Music, World Music No Comments »


Brazilian singer Maria Rita built her career doing her best to be outside the shadow of her late mother Elis Regina, a legendary performer in her own right whose career was cut short by a cocaine overdose. It was not an easy task, since Rita’s voice is incredibly similar to her mother’s. Over the years, she stayed away from Regina’s material while making inventive, jazz-inspired albums accompanied by a simple trio of piano, acoustic bass and drums (the exception was 2007’s “Samba Meu,” which was recorded with various percussive instruments added to the band.)

It was not until 2012 that she finally agreed to work on a project with Regina’s music in commemoration of the thirty year anniversary of her passing. “Viva Elis” was originally planned to be a limited five-performance engagement, but due to public demand it later evolved into a national tour and a CD and DVD entitled “Redescobrir.” The album covers her mother’s greatest hits played in arrangements close to the original recordings (the audience is heard cheering at the opening chords of tunes like “Como Nossos Pais” and “Águas de Março”) while some of the lesser-known songs were given a completely different treatment under the musical direction of her brother, arranger and producer João Marcelo Bôscoli. Read the rest of this entry »

Record Review: “New Samba Jazz Directions” by Duduka Da Fonseca Trio

Bossa Nova, Jazz, Latin, Record Reviews, Samba, World Music No Comments »

Duduka, New Samba Jazz DirectionsRECOMMENDED

Drummer extraordinaire Duduka Da Fonseca’s new release, “New Samba Jazz Directions” (Zoho), recorded in Rio de Janeiro with a trio of young Brazilian musicians rounded out by David Feldman (piano, previously with Scott Feiner’s Pandeiro Jazz) and Guto Wirtti (bass), contains mostly original songs penned by Da Fonseca and the group plus two covers: “Sonho de Maria” (Marcos Valle/Paulo Sergio Valle) and :Zelão: (Sergio Ricardo). With these musicians, the bandleader brings further a refreshed sound that takes him in a new direction as a drummer and a songwriter. Read the rest of this entry »

Record Review: “Putumayo Presents: Women of Brazil”

Alt-Rock, Bossa Nova, Jazz, Latin, Pop, Record Reviews, Rock, Samba, Singer-Songwriter, World Music No Comments »


Those who expected this compilation to feature the likes of Marisa Monte, Gal Costa or even newer names like Bebel Gilberto or Cibelle will be disappointed at first—this release contains none of their songs. Instead, we are presented with few names ever heard Stateside save for Luisa Maita or Mart’nalia, who have regularly toured in the US. The disc opens with Italy-based Nossa Alma Canta’s “Bossanova,” a tune that remembers the Brazilian movement that swept the world with the help of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.  The tune name recalls many familiar hits like “Wave,” “Desafinado” while playing snippets of familiar tunes via instrumental interludes. Read the rest of this entry »

Record Review: “Marcos Valle,” “Garra,” “Vento Sul” and “Previsao do Tempo” by Marcos Valle (re-release)

Bossa Nova, Jazz, Latin, Record Reviews, Samba, World Music No Comments »


Marcos Valle is probably best known Stateside as the writer of “Summer Samba” via its various recordings by the likes of Astrud Gilberto, Connie Francis and the Walter Wanderley Trio back in the sixties, but the fact is that he has had a very prolific (if rather erratic) career in which he has experimented with various musical genres, especially in his most creative phase in the early seventies, which has recently been rediscovered via new recordings by younger Brazilian artists like Curumin and Bebel Gilberto.

This renewed interest in Valle’s seventies output has prompted a rerelease of four of his albums, all originally released between 1970 and 1974 before he relocated to the U.S., where he lived and worked until the early eighties. These discs show his evolution both as a songwriter and a performer. Back then he took many musical risks, experimenting with sounds that were unheard of in Brazil.

The first of these is the self-titled “Marcos Valle” (1970), which was made after he returned from a brief stay in the United States. Here he still seems tied to the sounds of bossa nova-era Brazil (after all, he scored his first, and still best-known, hit in the genre), but willing to look beyond that by employing electric instruments. On “Garra” (1971), on the other hand, he seems willing to break free from the older wave with hippie anthems like “Mais de 30,” where he sings that you can’t trust “anyone over 30” while sending a heartfelt bossa-like message to his mentor  Antonio Carlos Jobim with “Ao Amigo Tom.” Read the rest of this entry »

Record Review: The Rough Guide to Samba

Latin, Record Reviews, Samba, World Music No Comments »


Though many new Brazilian artists have recently had a lot of attention in the international market, few actually represent samba, the country’s best-known musical genre. On this compilation from Rough Guides, we have a comprehensive sample of contemporary singers and songwriters alongside legends like Alcione and Martinho da Vila, who open the disc with a live take on “Duas Faces,” a classic song from Rio de Janeiro.

Da Vila’s daughter Mart’nalia (who has toured the US in recent years) appears on her hit “Cabide,” an uptempo tune that has a classic feel thanks to its simple organic approach. Pop singer Marisa Monte leads the “old guard” of Rio’s Portela Samba School on “Volta Meu Amor,” a heartfelt chorinho whose lyrics talk about the end of a love affair. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Céu + Curumin/Double Door

Electronic/Dance, Funk, Latin, New Music, Pop, Psychedelic, R&B, Rock, Samba, Singer-Songwriter, Soul, World Music No Comments »

Céu/Photo: Renan Costa Lima


Throughout her career, São Paulo-born Céu (pronounced SEH-uh) has been inspired by electronica and American soul music, but on her recent release “Caravana Sereia Bloom” (loosely translates as “Mermaid Bloom Caravan”) she goes into a different direction. The music is influenced by various elements of Brazilian regional music. An example is the lead single “Retrovisor” (“Rear View Mirror”), a tune whose main rhythm is reminiscent of the sounds commonly heard in countryside nightclubs around the country’s southeastern region. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Luisa Maita/Chicago World Music Festival

Alt-Rock, Indie Pop, Latin, Pop, Rock, Samba, Singer-Songwriter, World Music No Comments »

Photo: João Wainer


When Luisa Maita’s debut CD “Lero-Lero” first dropped in the U.S. in 2010, she joined the roster of many talented young Brazilian artists (Bebel Gilberto, Ceu, Seu Jorge—to name a few) to make it into the world music scene. Back then, she did a mini-tour that included small venues in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles that helped solidify her career and generate a buzz about her.

Maita’s sound is a mix of samba, rock and Afro-Brazilian influences. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Cibelle/Hothouse

Latin, Pop, Samba No Comments »


Another artist coming to the U.S. on a promotional tour is London-based Cibelle, who recently released “The Shine of Electric Dried Leaves.” The album is not for everyone—she mixes samba and pop in a very eclectic manner, showcasing songs of her own and a handful of covers. Her take on Caetano Veloso’s English-language “London London” features a duet with Devendra Banhart, and it is clearly a tribute to the Tropicalia movement led by Veloso, Gilberto Gil and others almost forty years ago. Her sound is mostly Europop, but she keeps heavily in touch with her Brazilian roots, especially on the Portuguese-language material. But don’t expect easy listening. Her sound can be a bit neurotic at times, sometimes a bit too experimental. She does great justice to Jobim’s “Por Toda A Minha Vida” (For All of My Life), a song immortalized by the late Elis Regina, who would break into tears whenever she performed it. Listen also to “Phoenix,” a tune co-written with Beinot Julliard. Read the rest of this entry »