Usually, an aging artist's last recording can make for a somber listening experience. The voice may be a shadow of what it once was, or the singer may try a genre that does not fit his/her style (e.g. Frank Sinatra's Duets albums with such rockers as Bono). Many times, such musicians should have retired while at the top of their game.
Someone forgot to tell jazz legend Sarah Vaughan, whose voice remained undiminished. In 1987, Vaughan embarked on her third Brazilian jazz album (her first two being 1977's I Love Brazil! and 1979's Copacabana), Brazilian Romance, with two impressive talents at the helm: Sergio Mendes, who produced the album, and Milton Nascimento, the post-bossa nova singer/songwriter. Due to Vaughan's status, she could recruit top session musicians, and Brazilian Romance is no exception: George Duke, Dori Caymmi, Paulinho da Costa, Tom Scott, and Ernie Watts represent just a few members of the stellar lineup. Yes, parts of the album now sound dated: the synthesizers and some electronic drums reek of the 1980s. But Vaughan's still powerful voice and ability to interpret some extremely difficult songs, despite her declining health, remains astounding. "Nothing Will Be as It Was (Nada Será Como Antes)" particularly stands out for her unique skill in performing songs with complicated melodies and chord changes, all over a rapid tempo.
The fact that Vaughan chose to work with Nascimento is no surprise, as both possessed much in common. Like Vaughan, Nascimento became a rule breaker; as Jazz.com's Ted Giola writes, he "played bossa songs with the 'wrong' chord changes." "Nothing Will Be as It Was" contains unusual chord changes that should not flow together, yet somehow do. The tempo and melody lack the straightforward bossa nova of "The Girl from Ipanema," yet they retain the sultry beat typical of Latin jazz. Only Vaughan could successfully tackle such as challenge, with her full range and musician's ability to improvise. As NPR's Tom Moon states, "Without resorting to shooby-doo scatting, she'd develop free-floating, impulsive phrases that were audacious enough to change the shape and the tone of a song." Indeed, her version of "Nothing Will Be as It Was" keeps its original Brazilian elements, yet she injects enough of her own style to make it a distinctively Sarah Vaughan recording.