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Album Review

Torch singing is not only for English speakers. The romance languages (including Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Catalan) also offer many possibilities for torch singers, and no one knows that better than Rosa Passos. The Brazilian singer has been performing torchy vocal jazz in Portuguese for many years; some have described her as a Brazilian equivalent of the late Shirley Horn, and that comparison is quite accurate on Romance. Many of the things that Horn was known for — subtlety, restraint, intimacy, understated introspection — are easy to find on this excellent release. But while Horn used the English language to get her emotional points across, Passos sticks to Portuguese on Romance — and anyone who doubts that the Portuguese language can be a superb vehicle for torch singing should pay close attention to Passos' dusky, soulful interpretations of songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Por Causa de Você," "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar"), Djavan ("Alibi"), Ivan Lins ("Doce Presenca"), João Donato ("Cadê Você") and other well-known Brazilian songwriters. Romance is Passos' tribute to what could be described as "the Great Brazilian Songbook" (as opposed to the Great American Songbook), and even though she didn't write any of the lyrics, her relaxed interpretations of these gems always sound very personal. Saying that Passos is relaxed isn't saying that she doesn't bring a lot to the songs emotionally; Passos doesn't feel that she has to shout in order to get one's attention, but that doesn't mean that she isn't expressive. Passos is incredibly expressive, and the beauty of the Portuguese language never lets her down on Romance.


Born: 1952 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Genre: MPB

Years Active: '00s

Rosa Passos is one of the few singers currently in Brazil dedicated to a genuine evolution of Brazilian music, devoid of fashionable trend and commercialism. She has established herself firmly in the country's artistic scenery, acknowledged by many such as João Gilberto, Maria Schneider, Clare Fisher, Paquito d'Rivera, Johnny Alf, Nana Caymmi (who recorded two of her compositions), and even the number one enemy of bossa nova, the fundamental music researcher J.R. Tinhorão, even if she hasn't had...
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Romance, Rosa Passos
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