Milton Nascimento
Warner Brothers. 9 47561-2

Milton Nascimento, vocals and guitar; full band, full orchestra too numerous to list

If you are new to the genre of Brazilian Jazz, it is important to know that Milton Nascimento is something of an icon, considered by many people to be the greatest living singer of Brazilian music. He has been performing and recording for many decades and has produced an impressive body of work. It is a somewhat humbling experience to presume to pass judgment on such an artist.

This CD, generous at sixteen selections, has many gems. The opening selection, "Aqueles olhos verdes," leads in with a definitive bass line and light percussion, progressively layering in keyboards, vocals, more percussion, and full orchestra. It is very melodic, slowly and engagingly syncopated, haunting, gorgeous. Another favorite is "Rosa Maria," a light, bright, tune with an easy syncopation and a sweet, yearning melody.

Milton shows himself to be a master of subtle phrasing, adding layers of rhythmic information along with his warm vocals. "Làgrima Flor" showcases Milton's voice in a sad and soulful melody over strong rhythmic support. A bonus selection at the end is marvelous, stringing together three adorable fragments, including a unique, Brazilified version of the Garland/Razaf standard, "In the Mood," and a sexy and spirited tune called "Cumana."

In terms of better known standards, there is a respectable cover of Jorge Ben's "Mas que nada," including special guest vocalist and flautist Bebeto from the original Tamba Trio. There is a tasteful, up-beat rendition of the Jobim classic "Lamento no morro." And there are three well-known American tunes, "Only You," Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and "Ooh Child." I found these three tunes the least satisfying aspects of this album, but some fans may find Nascimento's take on them to be valuable.

This CD provides a range of listening experience. The enthusiast might want to pluck some for reflexive moments and put others together for his wake-up routine.

by Norma Blase

New Sounds - CD Reviews March 2000