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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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O Cantador

Funny Baby Face Record
FBFR 1402



  1. Mas Que Nada

  2. Samba de Verão

  3. Travessia

  4. Sina

  5. Batucada Surgiu

  6. Guerilla (Eu Não Sou Ninguém)

  7. Eu Só Quero Um Xodó

  8. O Cantador

  9. Takeda No Komori-uta

  10. Serrado

Yuko Ito - Vocals

Cidinho Teixeira - Piano, accordion

Oriente Lopez - Flute (tracks 2, 3, 4, 7-9)

Aaron Heick - Alto sax (tracks 1, 5, 10)

Edgar DeAlmeida - Guitar (tracks 2, 6)

Gustavo Amarante - Bass (tracks 1, 4, 5, 8, 10)

Leco Reis - Bass (tracks 2, 3, 6, 7, 9)

Mauricio Zottarelli - Drums, percussion (tracks 1, 4, 5, 8, 10)

Adriano Santos - Drums (tracks 2, 3, 6, 7, 9)

If you'd been asked to listen to this disc without knowledge of the singer's origins, you'd have sworn that her roots were in Latin America – that's a measure of how far she has absorbed the rich musical culture of Brazil. This Tokyo-born artiste, based in New York since 1994, has previously shown her versatility by performing across a wide range of musical genres, including rock, soul and gospel. Here Yuko Ito teams up with a group of fine musicians assembled in conjunction with her Brazilian co-producer, Cidinho Teixeira. She delivers all the songs in Portuguese with the sole exception of Takeda No Komori-uta, a traditional Japanese piece, given a Latin setting by Yuko herself.

Some of the melodies are familiar – Mas Que Nada, for instance, and particularly, Samba de Verão, otherwise known as Sunday Samba, a favourite of mine when sung by Patricia Barber. There is some splendid flute playing to be heard from Oriente Lopez who shows us a fluent and inventive technique, gauging perfectly the mood of each number – listen to him almost anywhere but perhaps especially on the wistful Travessia. Elsewhere the immensely experienced altoist Aaron Heick, Seattle-born but long part of the New York jazz scene, also shines. Try his solo on Serrado which is a pacey, punchy piece. As you might expect, the drumming and percussion is right on the button, too. Batucada Surgiu is a fine example of that. Add to all this, the contribution of Teixeira on piano and the easy-on-the-ear playing of DeAlmeida on guitar (Guerilla shows off both to good effect) and you get some idea of the supporting musicians.

Inevitably, though, Yuko Ito is the central focus of the CD. Her voice is warm and expressive, passionate when called for and clear as a bell. I loved her version of the title song. Her jazz-inflected voice can hold a lyric well, as in Eu Só Quero Um Xodó and demonstrate a real sense of attack on, for instance, Sina (a personal highlight for me). Given the diversity of Yuko's musical journey, it will be interesting to see where it takes her next. In the meantime, lovers of Latin jazz have a treat in store with this disc.

James Poore

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