In one of the more unique vocal settings for the year we find Emy Tseng taking a jazz infused look at that bright and breezy sound known as Brazilian music but manages to accomplish such flights of fancy by performing classics from by The Mama's and the Papa's to "IThought About You." Along the way just for the sake of authenticity and adding tremendous flavor to the outing we have tunes from Toninho Horta, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Ivan Lins. Teng does part of this recording in English and part in Portuguese and either way you come out a winner even if much like myself you have a enough Portuguese to handle the airport bar.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this debut release is that Teng seems to pull from an unknown source to give such tunes as "California Dreamin" and the Freddie Hubbard lyrical rendition of Helianthella their just rewards without ever boarding on the pretentious or shoving the listener over the side of the sonic cliff. There is an old school authenticity that seems to elevate Teng to the next dimension of Brazilian music as she has successfully raised the bar that so many insist on limboing others. Teng's vocals are contemporary yet oddly eclectic especially on the closer "Close Your Eyes." Without question the set stealer would be California Dreamin' which exudes a raw Brazilian sensuality while retaining that special charm that was created here in the United States. There is an intriguing minimalism to this recording bordering on Emy Tseng unplugged. A great many acoustic instruments used in the less is more setting allow for an expressive presentation that is raw, organic and honest bypassing all form of potential pretentiousness that could trip Teng up in an instant.
If Brazilian music is your sweet spot as it is mine and you are looking to cleanse your sonic palette then this could be just the release you are looking for. Tseng covers all her bases and exceptionally well. Easily 4 out of 5 stars!
Tracks: Aquelas Coisas Todas; Deixa; California Dreamin; Berimbau; Coracao Vagabundo; Brigas Nunca Mais; Helianthella; Se Dependesse de Mim; I Thought About You; Na Beira do Rio; Close Your Eyes.
Personnel: Emy Tseng: vocals; Matvei Sigalov: acoustic guitar: (1,3,7,8,9,10) and violin (9); Roberto Berimbau: percussion (1,8,10); David Jernigan: acoustic bass (1,7,9,11); Aljandro Lucini: drums (1,2,4,5,6,7,8); Wayne Wilentz: keyboard: (1,6); Rogerio Souza: acoustic guitar (2,4,5,6); Andy Connell: clarinet (2,5) and soprano saxophone (4,6); Leonardo Lucini: bass (2,4,5,6); Bruno Lucini: PERCUSSION (2,4,5,6); Lyle Link: tenor saxophone (7)