While not from Brazil, vocalist Kevyn Lettau has established herself as a sultry singer who can handle Brazillian jazz's language and difficult chord changes well. Born in Germany, Lettau moved to San Diego at 17 years old. After teaming with guitarist Peter Sprague, the duo performed at local venues until they were discovered by Brazilian maestro Sergio Mendes in 1984. He took the budding singer under his wing, making her part of his touring band. Another mentor, Al Jarreau, also hired her for his backing group. These experiences led to her own career, beginning in 1990 with her debut self-titled album. Her blend of jazz and pop, carried by her wispy voice, earned her some notice among jazz audiences. But her followup, Braziljazz, brought her to basics: only Sprague and percussionist Michael Shapiro accompanied her, and what resulted is an enjoyable journey through jazz and bossa nova.
Starting with "Words and Music," the trio sets the stage for the rest of the album; in other words, Braziljazz is about focusing on only the essential elements of great jazz. Sprague's guitar work particularly shines here, allowing him to show off his complicated yet tuneful playing style. Lettau's vocals wrap around the rapid tempo and guitar. Similarly, "New Meaning" allows each member of the trio to solo; overall, the song beautifully showcases how Lettau can subtly manipulate her voice. Co-written by Sprague and Lettau, the lyrics are clearly meant to create a general romantic mood rather than to tell a story. When she sings the lyrics "I found magic moments denied/Take me to your quiet side/Honest eyes, with innocence and pride," her honeyed vocals linger on every syllable, perfectly complimenting the beautiful chord changes.