Fado Curvo (Time Square Records, 2003). Release May 6, 2003.
Dressed in haute couture gowns and flaunting distinguishable coiffered hair, Portugal’s newest fadista, Mariza
is dressed up with a place to go — upwards. Mariza’s ascension into stardom began in 2001, shortly after the release of her debut, Fado em Mim. She became a musical darling to British as well as, world wide audiences, garnering a BBC Award of World Music for 2002. She has also made various on air appearances on BBC radio host Charlie Gillette’s “Ping Pong” show.
Her latest release, Fado Curvo, referring to the curvy path of a fado (Portuguese laments often compared to flamenco or American blues), securely anchors Mariza’s musical career along side the most revered fadistas including the late and esteemed Amelia Rodrigues, who also happens to be Mariza’s de facto muse. The glamorous Mariza (think Grace Kelly) might seem like an overnight success to most onlookers, yet, the vocalist began singing fados at the ripe age of 5 and she was fully immersed in the fado tradition, often joining in improvised fados sung at her parents’ restaurant in Mouraria,
one of Lisbon’s traditional neighborhoods. Practice makes perfect and this becomes evident with the musical gems that sparkle on Fado Curvo. One listen to the crowning jewel, The Desert would ignite passion with the most detached listener. Written by pianist and producer Carlos Maria Trindade who also contributes his musical talent and augmented by Miguel Goncalves’ soothing trumpet, The Desert (O Deserto) proves achingly beautiful. That’s not to say that the other 11 tracks, also treasures, fall short of their mark because those tracks also demand to be heard. It’s hard to believe that these tracks were laid down in three takes, yet, this reflects the virtuoso musicianship presented on Fado Curvo.
The opener The Silence of the Guitar (O Silencio da guitarra) features Mario Pacheo on Portuguese guitar (an instrument that traditionally appears in fados) and Antonio Neto on Portuguese viola and guitar as a backdrop for Mariza’s vocal expressions. Monk Rider which sweats loneliness is given similar musical treatment. The CD creates a balance between flow laments and lively up tempo fados, including The Fair at Castro (Feira de Castro), Fado Curvo, (which also includes percussionist Quine) and Between the River and Reason (Entre o rio e a razao). The songs on the CD were created around Mariza’s favorite contemporary and classic Portuguese poems while pianist-producer Carlos Maria Trindade composed the music for Fado Curvo and The Desert . And pianist Tiago Machado composed Portrait (Retrato), Caravels (Caravelas) and Curls of My Hair (Aneis Do Meu Cabela). Spring (Primavera) originally composed for Amelia Rodrigues shines forth here under Mariza’s impassioned treatment.
As Mariza ascends into musical stardom, we can expect that fado will also regain its popularity while
complimenting other melancholy musical styles such as tango, flamenco (duende) and the blues. Yet, fados exist in a paradox that balances joy with pain which is evident on these Portuguese poems. For instance, the words to Fado Curvo speak of happiness and furies, “In the temple that only belongs to the fado the soul is like a garden where the flowers dance sideways in the endless wind. Will they stand poor little things the furies of nature? The passion is neither a straight line nor the fado is certitude.” And much like the song’s lyrics, Mariza’s second CD release follow a curvy road that heads straight for the heart.