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Live Reviews

Gal Costa & Romero Lubambo Duo
October 7, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Blue Note Jazz Club
New York City

On the second night of their week-long residence at the New York City jazz club, the first live collaboration between Brazilian singer Gal Costa and guitarist Romero Lubambo (of Trio da

Paz) began with Lubambo performing a solo piece that blended a bossa-nova groove with classical elements (Egberto Gismonti came to mind at times). After that, he welcomed Gal Costa to the stage, starting out with a rendition of Chico Buarque's “Morena Dos Olhos D'Agua,” a tune she recorded on her 1995 disc Mina D'Agua Do Meu Canto. Though she seemed to be a bit tense as she began her participation, it was clear that she knows how to command a room, constantly turning around and facing the audience, often looking straight into fans' eyes.

 

The duo then went on with “Vatapá,” a composition by the recently deceased Dorival Caymmi. The tune is basically a recipe for a typical Bahian dish made with shrimp, crushed cashews, dendê (unfiltered palm oil) and other spices. Lubambo dominated this very playful tune with his accomplished fingerpicking style – Costa seemed so taken by his guitar work that she almost missed her cue at the end of the solo. She followed that with another Caymmi composition entitled “A Vizinha” (The Neighbor), noting the composer's passing at 94 years of age.

 

Costa seemed to slowly relax as the concert progressed, and by the fourth number she seemed more at ease, cracking jokes about her English-language skills (“Romero can speak English much better than me,” she said at one point) and smiling more openly as she sang.  She seemed completely comfortable with material from Chico Buarque, especially “A Rita,” a samba about a heartbroken songwriter who loses not only his lover but also his muse, which renders guitar forever silent.

 

The fiftieth anniversary of the bossa nova movement could not be forgotten (Costa recorded several of Jobim's songs during her career, and dedicated a tour to his memory in the late 90s), and she marked its passage with a selection that included “Desafinado,” “The Girl From Ipanema,” Samba Do Avião” and “A Felicidade.” On the first song, she prompted audience participation by unexpectedly turning the microphone over to the crowd, who at first was a little startled (she did that halfway through a verse), and by the end of the selection everyone was singing along with her.