I love how Europeans interpret the bossa nova. The French have been particularly deft at capturing the genre's softness and sensuality. Think Henri Salvador, Francis Lai's soundtrack for A Man and a Woman (1966) and Mary L., a relatively new Parisian singer. But the French don't have a monopoly on producing convincing Brazilian tributes. Germany's Paulo Morello and Denmark's Kim Barth have just released the remarkable Morello and Barth: Fim De Semana Em Eldorado (or in English, "Weekend in Eldorado").
For bossa nova to work at a high level, at least from my perspective, two components must be in place: You need catchy melodic hooks, and your passion for the music has to be genuine. As commercial as bossa nova seems, interpretations fall flat when recording artists try too hard or don't sound emotionally committed to what they are doing. Think of all the so-called "lounge" junk today that tries to pass for bossa nova. [Pictured: Paulo Morello]
Morello and Barth fully understand the bossa nova, its history and the criteria that must be met for the sophisticated listener. Much knowledge was gained through an extended stay in Rio de Janeiro in 2001. While the pair was there, they befriended two bossa nova legends: vocalists Alaide Costa and Johnny Alf, who is considered the father of bossa nova and died earlier this year. Both appear on the album. [Pictured: Kim Barth]
Guitarist Morello and saxophonist Barth were clearly aided and inspired by their residence in an apartment on the Rua Nascimento Silva in the Ipanema section of Rio—the same street where Antonio Carlos Jobim had lived. You have to love musicians who go to these lengths to absorb a culture just to authentically capture the flavor of its art. Such a glorious samba sabbatical tells you right away that they acknowledge the music is intricate and that research and ambiance were required for credibility. [Pictured: Alaide Costa and Johnny Alf]
The compositions on Eldorado are originals—except for the title track, O Que E Amar (Johnny Alf), Outra Vez (Jobim) and Chora Tua Tristeza (Oscar Castro Neves and Luvercy Fiorini). The result is romantic, swinging and magical, with Morello and Barth creating surfy music that harkens back to Rio's tall and tan epoch in the mid-1960s.
For more information about Morello and Barth, go here.
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