Mauricio Pessoa: Habitat (2013)
Pessoa's music is at once classic sounding and modern, as it adheres to the tried-and-true formulas at the heart of his homeland's music, while simultaneously absorbing what has come through the Brazilian jazz pipeline in the past. His charming voice is an amalgam of Joao Gilberto, Vinicius Cantuaria and Caetano Veloso, with a hint of David Byrne thrown in for good measure. His guitar work, subtle and steady as it is, also gives nods to some of those men, and many others who blazed that particular trail.
Habitat houses ten numbers that speak to Pessoa's easy way with words, moods and grooves. He bookends the album with a light, flowing opener ("Boca No Lodo") and a joyous, choir-and-strings aided closer ("Estrada De Terra"), but it's not all sunshine and rainbows in between. A more pensive mood comes to the fore on "Prisma," which features a stripped-down sound with guitar, vocals, bass and toy piano, and a sense of the dramatic takes hold on the aptly named "Saudade." The majority of Pessoa's vocals are in Portuguese, but he ventures out of his comfort zone to take a stab at English on two occasions ("Linda" and "Summer Rain"). The natural vocal grace that he exhibits elsewhere doesn't carry over very well to these numbers, but he gets points for trying.
While Pessoa is still in his early 30s, he exhibits the talent and taste of a seasoned veteran. He makes music that speaks to the soul and elevates the Brazilian aural arts.
Track Listing: Boca No Lodo; Quando Falas Coracao; Prisma; Tulipa Turca; Linda; Saudade; Tenho Guardado Em Meu Peito; Summer Rain; Agua Da Fonte; Estrada De Terra.
Personnel: Mauricio Pessoa: guitar, vocals; Ze Luis: flute (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10), tenor saxophone (4, 8); Simone Giuliani: piano (1-4, 7, 8); Jim Robertson: bass; Kenny Grohowski: drums; Ze Mauricio: percussion (1, 2, 4, 7, 9, 10); Anja Wood: cello (1, 6, 10); Carlos Darci: trombone, tamborim (5); Antoine Silverman: violin (6, 10); Jonathan Dinklage: violin (6, 10); Todd Low: viola (6, 10); Muiza Adnet: vocals (9, 10); Joana Adnet: vocals (9, 10); Antonia Adnet: vocals (9, 10);
Record Label: Sony Music