On her third release, Brazilian-bred Bebel Gilberto seems to have found a certain comfort zone between the bossa nova roots that run in her veins and the electronic sounds that have been present in her music since her 2000 début, Tanto Tempo.
On Momento, which was recorded during separate sessions in Rio de Janeiro, New York and London, there is a blend of all her different influences, and that is reflected positively on each individual track – there are distinct sonic differences, but they all carry Gilberto's personal signature.
One of the tracks that immediately stand out is "Caçada", written in the 70s by her uncle, Chico Buarque, one of Brazil's best-loved popular composers. Her version is played as a forró, which is a yet to be widely discovered style is a world apart from the sophistication of the music made by Rio de Janeiro's music school-educated composers.
It is a completely organic, syncopated beat made to dance to, and many musicians – save a few exceptions – learn the music by ear from their elders. Forró is played with a hand-held bass drum, accordion, wooden flutes and other rustic instruments.
"Bring Back the Love," the first single selected from the disc, is one of its most uplifting moments. Written by longtime collaborators Didi Gutman and Sabina Sciubba, the song has a samba-inflected dance beat (a digital-only remix EP with various versions by the likes of The Bombay Dub Orchestra, Scandinavian DJ Prins Thomas is already available from online stores) that quickly gets you moving.
On a live setting, her backup band today has a simpler setup than on previous tours, with acoustic guitar (Masa Shimizu, a longtime member), percussion (shared by Darci Trombone and Forró in The Dark member Mauro Refosco), keys (Frederico Pena) and flute (Jorge Continentino, who also played acoustic guitar).
During the set, she breezes through tunes from the new disc, while going through favorites from her back catalogue, such as "August Day Song" , one of the most enduring hits from her 2000 debut, Tanto Tempo.
In one of the show's most intimate moments, Shimizu sits next to her on the stage's floor and proceeds to play bossa nova-flavored songs such as "Samba e Amor" (another tune by Chico Buarque) , Cole Porter's "Night And Day" and "Mais Feliz", one of her earliest compositions, co-written with the late Cazuza that was a huge hit in Brazil for Adriana Calcanhoto in the late 90s (Gilberto committed her own version to disc on Tanto Tempo).
Gilberto seems quite comfortable in this simpler setting – Brazilian fans who come to her gigs respond to her music with more than simple handclaps (at a recent appearance in New York, many screamed "linda" – beautiful – and others yelled that they loved her). She responds to that by giving emphasis to her music, which continues to be of the highest quality.
Appearing September 18, 2007
Webster Hall, 125 E. 11th St.
212-260-4700 ; 8; $27.50
For other cities, visit: www.sixdegreesrecords.com
Note: Different edits of this piece were featured on the Washington City Paper and New City Chicago.
Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.