Saturday, June 8, 2013

Badi Assad Between Love and Luck QuatroVentos 2013

A lyrical shower for the senses. Fresh, inventive and delightfully engaging.

Badi Assad may well be Brazil's best kept musical secret. Assad is also a critics worst nightmare and will have label executives scratching their head in wonder. Is Assad pop? Could Assad be jazz or perhaps a world music hybrid? When a performance artist such as Badi Assad has the ability to transcend genre and strict categorization then that my friends is a beautiful thing. Raw all most organic vocals delivered in her native Portuguese as well as English combined with critically acclaimed nylon and steel string guitar work has garnered this Brazilian dynamo a global following while sharing a stage with such American artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin and Joe Cocker. While I have all ways held cover art should capture the essence of the recording if not the artist in spirit, Photographer Alfredo Nagib Filho captures the myriad of colors and textures brought forth from the captivating Between Love and Luck.

All compositions are Assad originals who is far more than a more than competent lyricist, she is an abstract lyrical poet working on a level that similar artists can only hope to one day reach. "Catch" (performed in English) would be considered a smooth jazz composition by smooth jazz standards with a heavy pop base that captures the beatnik poetry of Assad in an incredibly engaging tune. "Vinheta Coracao" is an all too brief guitar interlude that reinforces the virtuoso talent of this Brazilian treasure. This tune effortlessly morphs into an intimate acoustic ballad "To Reach My Heart" which would seem to scream to American jazz programmers to widen their scope when considering new music. While four of the fourteen tunes are presented in English, not being fluent in Portuguese is certainly not a problem. Badi Assad has a masterful command of phrasing and a rhythmic cadence to her vocal style that moves past any language barrier that may be present given credence to the old adage the music is indeed the universal language.

While slightly left of the more traditional centers of form and function of both Brazilian and North American improvisational music, Assad establishes her own unique artistic voice that would seem to float in evocative fashion between the two continents.

Incredibly entertaining, a multi-cultural feast for the senses.

4 Stars and then some!

Tracks: Ultraleve; Pega No Coco; Between Truth and Luck; Vinheta Noite; Noite De Sao Joao; Quarto Da Rainha; Catch; Vinheta Coracao; To Reach My Heart; O Barco Daqui De Dentro; Eu Vim Daquele Lugar; Spicy Moments; Mulheres E Cunhantas; Mar Egeu.

Personnel: Badi Assad: vocals, acoustic guitars; Marcio Arantes: electric guitars, acoustic and electric bass, keyboards, cuatro, whistles and backing vocals; Guilherme Kastrup: drums, percussion and samplers.
Special Guests: Dimos Goudaroulis: cello (11,14); Ricardo Herz: violin (5,13); Webster Santos: acoustic steel string guitar (1); Emiliano Sampaio: trombone and brass arrangements (1,6,9); Jorge Cirillo: baritone sax (1), flute (6,9); Marcelo Valezi: soprano sax (1), tenor sax (6,9); Ivan de Andrade: tenor sax (1), clarinet (6,9); Alessandro Ribeiro: trumpet (1,5) and flugelhorn (9).