Anyone interested in Brazilian music has something to look forward to in the new release of Milagre, the first duo album of long term collaborators, vocalist Maucha Adnet and pianist Helio Alves. These are two musicians who seem to know each other well. They have a feel for one another and it shows in their performances. Adnet, who worked with the great Antonio Carlos Jobim and Banda Nova from 1984 to his death in 1994, has also sung with the likes to Oscar Castro-Neves, Slide Hampton, Herbie Mann, and Randy Brecker as well as husband Duduka Da Fonseca. Alves has played with Joe Henderson, Paquito D’Rivera, Gato Barbieri and Rosa Passos, among others.
Milagre, which means miracle in Portuguese, features 14 classic songs from some of the best of Brazilian composers from Jobim to Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Moacir Santos among others. They are performed with a stylish sincerity that communicates their emotional depth even to those of us who don’t understand a word of Portuguese. Todd Barkan’s liner notes are also a big help. The album opens with “O Cantador” by Nelson Motta and Dori Caymmi, whom Adnet had met when he played guitar with Jobim in 1984. It opens with Alves’ haunting piano followed by the singer’s mesmerizing vocal. It is an elegant prelude to what is to come.
Gil’s “Eu Vim da Bahia” follows with an upbeat change of pace and then the first of the album’s songs in English, Jobim’s “Waters of March.” While Adnet may not feel as comfortable with English as with her native language, she manages the lyric quite well. The album ends with the other English song, “April Child,” Moacir Santos’ music with lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Adnet plays some percussion (triangle, etc.) on this and a couple of other tracks. Other Jobim tunes on the album include “Gabriela,” “Retrato Em Branco E Preto” (which is also known as “Portrait in Black and White”), and “Caminhos Cruzados.” Newton Mendonça’s lyric for the latter looks to a new love to make up for previous romantic disappointments. “Vale Do Ribeira” has some nice solo piano work followed by some sweet vocalise from Adnet.
The hoary classic “Tico-Tico No Fubá,” which some of us remember from the Carmen Miranda on screen performance in Copacabana, gets a more subdued interpretation here and makes for a nostalgic moment. The song was suggested by Adnet’s brother Mario who also composed “Desafinada,” another of the album highlights.
Brazilian music in the right hands is magical. Maucha Adnet and Helio Alves have the right hands.