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Brazilian Breezes...mostly Jobim

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Album Review

Considering that her mother is the gifted swing singer Betty Johnson, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that Lydia Gray displays the extraordinary talent she demonstrates here. Most of the songs are popular melodies penned by Antonio Carlos Jobim, arranged beautifully by guitarist Ed Eastridge and sung by Gray in a distinctly dry voice with a slightly behind-the-beat delivery. She sings most of the pieces in English, with little if any improvisation, but she infuses almost every tune with bittersweet inflections that make her interpretations quite engaging. Her voice is clearly influenced by Susannah McCorkle, and Gray's rendition of "Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)" compares favorably to McCorkle's spectacular recorded version, though Gray sings it differently, with an attractive, somewhat unemotional tinge, reminiscent of Chet Baker at his best. When Gray sings in Portuguese on "Voce Vai Ver," her sensuous, deliciously sonorous timbre steals the day. The arrangements wisely allow Gray's voice a distinctly intimate setting, something she fully exploits with a soft, mellifluous tone. Gray contributes a fascinating version of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate On You," sung with a disarming Latin flavor that begs for more. Eastridge's writing and his lightly swinging, minimalist guitar add considerably to the overall effect. This is an album to savor, equal to the best of the jazz-oriented bossa nova collections, and it captures perfectly the romantic essence of these beautiful tunes. The only downside is the regretfully short recording time.

Brazilian Breezes...mostly Jobim, Lydia Gray
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