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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

PAULA MORELENBAUM

By Tom Terrell
Published September 22, 2005

Berimbau
Universal/Mirante

Carioca chanteuse Paula Morelenbaum’s been a star in Brazil since her 1984-94 recording-touring stint in Jobim’s last group, Nova Banda. In ’01, Morelenbaum, her cellist husband Jacques and Japanese keyboard god Ryuichi Sakamoto (aka Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto) released the sublime Jobim tribute Casa. The ’03 follow-up, A Day In New York, made bossa nova classics brand new all over again. PM’s new solo album Berimbau masterfully trumps all that came before with 12 slyly radical versions of bossa nova/MPB godfather Vinicius de Moraes’ most revered compositions. It’s a beautiful thing: Bossacucanova’s funky trip beat loops/illbient samples + cool samba-jazzy Antonio Pinto (City Of God) + harmonicas-ukuleles-tambourines + one whistler + The Only Singer Who Knows Bossa Nova.”Insensatez” as a hallucinogenic blend of melancholy trip-hop harmonics, jazz bossa beats, wistful violin, dub effects and Paula’s languidly bittersweet contralto. “Seule” remakes/remodels Pixinguinha’s original melody by mashing up a percolating drum ’n’ bass swerve with old school MPB strings/flutes swing. Black Orpheus’ immortal “O nossa amor” reinvented as a storming choro disco-funk club track! Paula Morelenbaum is the Real Deal.

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