Belezas, by Musica Brasileira, by Egídio Leitão

With nine critically acclaimed albums previously recorded in Brazil, the United States and Japan, Carol Saboya is poised to solidify her presence in the musical world. Her latest album Belezas has been in stores since early July 2012. Arranged and produced by her father Antonio Adolfo, with whom she recorded Ao Vivo – Live (2007) and Lá e Cá – Here and There (2010), Belezas presents the music of Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento. Besides Antonio on piano, the other musicians featured are Claudio Spiewak (acoustic and electric guitars), Jorge Helder (double bass), Rafael Barata (drums and percussion) and special guests Dave Liebman (soprano and tenor sax) and Hendrik Meurkens (harmonica).

With a timbre like no other in Brazilian music — her voice is crystal clear and not strident — and phrasing that is on par with great vocalists, Carol Saboya makes her singing appear effortless whether singing in Portuguese or English. In Belezas, we can witness this easiness in twelve well produced and arranged tracks. Carol goes from Portuguese to English and vice versa without any harshness or rough edges. She is another instrument playing with the other musicians, and all you are left to do is enjoy this ride and love the music reaching your ears.

Track after track Belezas delivers great music and performances. The jazzy opener “Bola de Meia, Bola de Gude” blends in voice, piano and guitar with drums and bass in a musically airtight arrangement and thoroughly pleasing rendition. Ivan Lins‘ beautiful “Who Is in Love Here,” is treated to a much slower and effective execution than originally recorded by the songwriter in his 1989 Love Dance English release. Then it was pop, and here it shows more soul and intimacy. Another great moment in the album is the refined soprano sax solo by Dave Liebman in “Tristesse.” Carol’s voice playfully fuses with the soprano sax throughout this arrangement. One of my favorite tracks in Beleza — if I am forced to pick one — is “Soberana Rosa (She Walks This Earth).” Here samba and jazz mellifluously feed from each other. It is sublime to hear all musicians having fun in this unforgettable performance. The second guest appearance in Belezas comes with Hendrik Meurkens. His harmonica accompaniment in “Doce Presença (Sweetest Presence)” is glorious. Never have a song, soloist and singer been so smooth and out of this world as here. One of my favorite Milton‘s compositions is “Tarde (Evening).” Interestingly enough, I am more used to hearing that song in an instrumental version without lyrics. It was with much anticipation that I looked forward to hearing Carol’s voice and her approach to this beautiful melody. Of course, she delivered it without a hint of hesitation. Dave’s tenor sax is an extra gift in the arrangement.