Natural (Six Degrees Records, 2003)
Since its creation by Antonio Jobim in 1957, bossa nova has conjured up images of waves caressing the shores of Rio de Janeiro’s chic beaches. When American jazz musicians Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd caught on to the new Brazilian music wave, bossa nova became an international sensation, especially after shy housewife Astrud Gilberto sung the 1959 hit, The Girl from Ipanema.
Bossa nova with its flat low key vocals, syncopated guitar strums and shimmering piano has become associated with Brazil, often ending up on soundtracks of Brazilian films. This seductive and poetic music composed by honey voice singer-songwriters has been revamped through a new generation of Brazilian composers including Celso Fonseca. And evidence of this new wave of bossa nova melodies can be found on Fonseca’s fifth album, Natural (debut CD in the US).
Fonseca might be a new name in the States, but the singer-songwriter-guitarist is an established artist in Brazil who has produced, performed and arranged music for American Carlos Santana as well as, some of Brazil’s hottest talent including Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Marisa Monte, Virginia Rodriguez and Bebel Gilberto. Fonseca along with Ronaldo Bastos’ CD Juventude: Slow Motion Bossa Nova received a Latin Grammy nomination in 2002.
Perhaps, Natural with its slick production performed by a small ensemble including pianist Daniel Jobim (Antonio’s grandson), master percussionist Robertinho Silva (from Milton Nascimento’s band), acoustic bassist Jorge Helder (Chico Buarque’s group) and guest vocalist Cibelle (She’s a Carioca) will garner a Latin Grammy in 2003.
Natural includes original bossa novas along with a 1950’s cool jazz standard, The Night We Called It A Day and bossa nova classics such as the seductive duet, She’s a Carioca in which Fonseca’s velvety smooth voice slide into Cibelle’s (Suba) stylishly flat vocals. She’s a Carioca recalls Astrud Gilberto’s days in the limelight with its soft and breezy approach. The original composition, Slow Motion Bossa Nova nods to the Grandfather of bossa nova, Antonio Jobim and at times, Natural sounds like one of those bossa nova classics compilations. Fonseca never wavers in his loyalty to the bossa nova’s origins, although at times, you can’t help but wish he would take it up a notch or two.
As it is, Fonseca’s Natural fits in well with a collection of samba and bossa nova favorites. It’s jazzy, smooth, seductive and eloquent while pointing to a new generation of Brazilian jazz and pop musicians as well as, preserving a significant moment in Brazil’s musical history. (As it appears on Cranky Crow World Music).