Media Alert: Catina DeLuna – “Lado B Brazilian Project”

Brazilian music is a road that has been well-traveled, but pianist/vocalist Catina DeLuna and pianist/arranger Otmaro Ruiz have re-examined the repertoire for their latest recording “Lado B: Brazilian Project". To take the most familiar example first, “The Girl from Ipanema” gets a welcome makeover with mixed meters, revised harmonies, an unexpected modulation and a slower, more reflective tempo. It's like a new song, and I suspect that a listener jumping into the middle of this track would have trouble recognizing the chord sequence. The opening track overlays Lenine’s “Lavadeira do Rio” over an instrumental version of Egberto Gismonti’s “Maracatu”, thus bringing the worlds of MPB, alternative rock and contemporary jazz together. DeLuna’s smooth, flowing voice is a striking contrast to the biting mercurial single piano lines she plays in her solo later in the track. The surging percussion of Mike Serfaty, Clarice Cast and Greg Beyer bring this arrangement to a stunning conclusion. There are no translations of the Portuguese texts, but DeLuna’s rich voice is so well-matched to the ensemble (basically flute, marimba and rhythm section) that her contributions can be appreciated on a purely musical level. On “Contrato de Separação”, her wordless phrasing is particularly elegant against the flute of guest artist Bob Sheppard and the guitar of Larry Koonse. The sound of water—which opened the album—reappears at the beginning of “Chovendo Na Roseira” (“Double Rainbow”) juxtaposed with the voices of a 10-piece mixed choir. The choir reappears throughout the track, with Ruiz’s superb vocal scoring and long meter rhythms offering a fresh approach to this fine Jobim composition. One of the album’s highlights is a new song “Estrela Azul”, which contrasts a liquid DeLuna vocal with a menacing ostinato part for bass (Edwin Livingston) and piano (Ruiz). The coda features overlapping vocal lines over a delicate guitar improvisation. The influence of Bobby McFerrin appears on the baião, “O Canto da Ema” which moves from solo voice with body percussion to a well-developed episode with DeLuna’s overdubbed voices. Despite the language barrier, DeLuna breaks your heart with her passionate readings of the ballads “Encontros e Despedidas” and “Fotografia” (ably supported by Ruiz’s accordion). The band’s name “Lado B” is Portuguese for “Side B”, noting the best tracks of an LP could be found there. Look no further than this album for a superb recasting of Brazilian music.

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