I'm not sure why singer-songwriter-pianist Tania Maria has just released a CD in the States with tracks recorded in 2005 and 2008, but it really doesn't matter. Her work on Canto is superb, sensual and beckoning.
Maria remains largely unknown to many jazz fans in the U.S.—despite her powerful, robust voice, her syncopated jazz piano style and her intoxicating melodic compositions. My guess is it's the "female artist" thing. Many jazz fans still tend to view women players as a novelty rather than as serious contenders. Truth be told, there may be a whole host of reasons why a gifted artist like Maria isn't a household name here yet, including marketplace name confusion with Teena Marie, the '80s pop icon. Either way, I'm sure that will change.
The good news is now you know who she is (if you didn't already!) and why she's so special. On Canto, Maria is responsible for the music and lyrics on most tracks. She's also playing piano on all tracks. And singing on many. Quite a tall order for any artist—male or female.
Dig Intimidade—with its surfy, soft bossa build and the powdery trombone arrangement that's in sync with Maria's single piano notes (is there a whistler in there?). Or the steamy title-track ballad and the samba shuffle riff of Ca C'est Bon.
This is a gorgeous album all the way through, showing off Tania Maria's many exquisite talents and seductive gifts. Ultimately, what you hear is Maria's heart beating. For those who have had enough of the cold winter, this album is 10 tracks of summer—strolling along the beach in the late afternoon, when the evening clouds get thin and long.
An indispensable recording from a multi-talented Brazilian jazz artist who lifts you up and gets your blood going.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Tania Maria's Canto (Naive) here.
JazzWax clip: Here's Intimidade from Tania Maria's new album Canto...