Recorded when she was at the peak of popularity, a result of her stint with Chick Corea's Return to Forever, 500 Miles High presents Flora Purim in concert at the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival. Accompanied by an all-star band including guitarist David Amaro, flutist Herbie Mann, keyboardist Pat Rebillot, bass legend Ron Carter, and husband (and star in his own right) Airto Moreira on drums, vocals, and various percussion, the Brazilian songstress delivers a fiery performance that must have been a joy to behold. Strictly speaking, this is really more of a band album than a Flora Purim album, as Airto and the guys are featured for extended instrumental romps. However, when Purim is in the spotlight, her vocal magic lifts the proceedings to a high level. The trademark "500 Miles High" is wilder and more electric than in its Return to Forever studio version. Special guest Milton Nascimento leads the ensemble through his "Cravo e Canela" (Cinnamon and Cloves), a joyously percussive highlight of the show. Elsewhere, Airto joins his wife for a vocal give-and-take while the band cooks along underneath. The lengthy set closer, "Jive Talk," is really more a showcase for him than for his wife, but when it kicks into high gear, it provides a scorching climax highlighted by the twosome's wordless vocals. Although a fine document of her live show, 500 Miles High is probably not the best place to go for an introduction to the vocal artistry of Flora Purim. Stories to Tell and Butterfly Dreams would serve this purpose better, as would Corea's Light as a Feather. Nonetheless, it's an enjoyably eclectic and exciting outing.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Newsom