World & Latin

Brazilian Edge

04 JAN 10 JOHN C. BRUENING

If you're in the mood for a polished blend of Brazilian samba, bossa and other Latin shades that goes down easy and makes no demands along the way, then quite frankly, you won't find it on Live At The Blue Note, the 2002 release by vocalist/pianist Tania Maria and her Viva Brazil Quartet. However, if you're looking for an authentic merger of jazz from either side of the equator -- something with a few rough edges but lots of raw energy and fire -- then this eight-song set will get you where you want to go.

From the opening bars of the staccato-flavored "Funky Tamborim," the recording is dominated by piano and percussion -- both from the same instrument in come cases -- with everything else taking a back seat. Even Maria's vocals, intriguing as they are, frequently take a secondary role. But it's this slightly off-balance mix, intentional or accidental, that contributes to the sense of immediacy and spontaneity that are so much a part of a good live performance.

"Granada" tumbles out of Maria's piano with a reckless abandon that's matched only by her soaring vocal lines and barely held together by Luiz Augusto Cavani's consistent drumming. "Valeu" is a more laid-back affair, with an elastic tempo and a whistled chorus that adds an element of folksiness to an otherwise jazzy number.

"Minha Mae And Sangria" is the appropriately rollicking coda to this live set that pushes the more refined preconceptions of bossa and samba to a place that's a little more gritty, a little more edgy, and in some ways a lot more engaging.