Saturday, June 26, 2010

Toots Thielemans & Elis Regina - Aquarela do Brasil

On a scale of 1 to 5, "Aquarela Do Brasil" is a SIX!! One of the great MPB performances of all time, with Toots Thielemans adding soaring beautiful harmonica/guitar solos between some truly amazing vocals by Elis Regina. Plus Toots gives three solid solo performances, including an Elis tribute.
Recorded in 1969, during a "howling snowstorm" in Stockholm Sweden of all places, the Brazilian Super-Diva, Elis Regina, and the acclaimed jazz master, Toots Thielemans, conjured up a steaming, mid-summer Brazilian beach in the studio. Elis is on fire throughout and clearly having alot of fun! Her musical quintet, Elis Cinco, is brilliant and audibly enthusiastic. Singing with a wide range of emotions and tossing off gymnastic phrases with ease, Elis is incredible! She wields her voice like a knief, cutting quickly and deeply into each song. Toots is equally brilliant and the entire ensemble plays like old musical friends. I speak no Portuguese but this music is as clear as a crystal. Normally I pick out a "Piece D'Resistance" in every CD, but this CD is so uniformly brilliant that there are too many outstanding performances by both artists to pick one. The sensuous, sultry "Barquinho" (Little Boat) is cast as an overpowering ballad performance that will slow your breathing. "Voce", the tongue twisting "Corrida de Jangada", and the sizzling "Wave" (with Elis' patented "sozinho" Afro-Brazilian tagline at the end) are new again. She totally personalizes "Aquarela Do Brasil" using the 'bridge' only and then adds the batucada "Nega do Cabelo Duro" to it, infusing it with humor and the sound of "crickets": very unique performance. And the octave-jumping tour de force of "Cantu de Ossanha" is spine-tingling great singing like no one else can do it. I bought this CD primarily out of curiosity about the combination of Toots & Elis. I had recently bought the excellent Chez Toots CD and noticed this CD in his discography. I popped it in the CD player and wandered away. The next morning the CD player woke me up with "Wave" and I was captivated and totally amazed for the next hour. As a jazz, classical, and pop music fan, I KNOW singers and this singer was someone very, very special. She understood nuance, emotion, improvisation, the blues (ok, "saudade", if you must), how to deliver a knockout punch and leave us wanting more. It's no wonder they called her 'Furacao' (The Hurricane). Now I'm collecting more Elis recordings and have just purchased the self-titled first CD cut by her multiple Grammy-winning daughter, "Maria Rita". With this CD, Elis (over twenty years after her tragic accidental death) has stolen my musical heart. She ranks in the company of the greatest singers ever: Ella, Sarah, Maria Callas, Judy, and LadyDay. I think she realized she was really a jazz singer at heart interpreting MBP. Believe me, this CD should be required listening for ALL music fans who love GREAT MUSIC. Definitely, a SIX ! - by RBSProds, Amazon.com

Artist: Toots Thielemans & Elis Regina
Album: Aquarela do Brasil
Year: 1969
Label: Phillips
Total time: 33:25

Tracks:
1.  Wave (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 3:12
2.  Aquarela Do Brasil (Ary Barroso) 3:02
3.  Visao (Antonio Adolfo/Tiberio Gaspar) 2:54
4.  Corrida De Jangada (Edu Lobo/Jose Carlos Capinan) 2:05
5.  Wilsamba (Roberto Menescal) 2:11
6.  Voce (Roberto Menescal/Ronaldo Boscoli) 2:26
7.  Barquinho (Roberto Menescal/Ronaldo Boscoli) 2:45
8.  O Sonho (Egberto Gismondi) 2:15
9.  Five For Elis (Toots Thielemans) 1:59
10.  Canto De Ossanha (Baden Powell/Vinicius De Moraes) 3:14
11.  Honeysuckle Rose (Fats Waller/Andy Razaf) 2:54
12.  Volta (Roberto Menescal/Ronaldo Boscoli) 4:28

Personnel:
Toots Thielemans (Guitar and Harmonica)
Elis Regina (Vocals)
Antonio Adolfo (Piano)
Roberto Menescal (Guitar)
Wilson das Neves (Percussion)

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