Reviewed by: Colin Morris
Brazilian music has always been about constant change, saudade (yearning songs), música popular brasileira (Brazilian popular music, or MPB for short), and lambada, yet it is the school of bossa nova and samba that we return to time and time again. It is the music we think about in summer most often. No wonder it’s still an essential part of many artists’ repertoire.
As is my mode of reviewing, I try to listen to a record without reading the liner notes first. I don’t want to be distracted by false promises. But, halfway through the first track, I reached for an overview as to Julie Bevan’s history. Wellington born Bevan studied at The New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī, founded the Brazilian music group Zamba Flam, and is a founding member of Wellington’s Batucada. Wellingtonians are super proud of this group. They make you sit up, then get up and shake your booty regardless of age.
Kaleidoscope (my favourite with guitar and accordion in the style of Astor Piazzolla) is an outstanding track. The album is absolutely steeped in the sounds of Brazil. The delicate Spanish guitar nylon string plucking mixed with bass, drums, trumpet, sax, and accordion all fused seamlessly together gives us a sound redolent of João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Luiz Bonfa. But it’s more than a homage. There are some serious compositions on display here. None more so than the electrifying picking by Marcelo Nami and Bevan on Stone Eaters or the non-Brazilian track Show Us Your Bole-R-Us, which incorporates some fiery flamenco. The very next track Dervish and the muted trumpet of Altair Martins made me think of Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain. It’s a catch-me-if-you-can kind of a track between guitar and trumpet before expanding into a drum solo. Technically it’s the most satisfying on the disc. It comes as no surprise that all the music was composed and arranged by Julie Bevan.
For sheer listening pleasure, Danca Dos Gnomos, a seemingly improvised jazz track, works best. This wonderful disc will knock your socks off. Oh, to see this album released in Brazil.