Milton Nascimento

Courage

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Milton Nascimento's first album for North American ears, recorded at Van Gelder Studios in New Jersey under the watchful eye and discerning ear of Creed Taylor, is a masterpiece, a gorgeously executed tour through his early songs. Backed beautifully by Eumir Deodato's lush orchestrations and a clutch of sidemen from the Taylor stable (including Herbie Hancock, Airto Moreira, and Hubert Laws), Nascimento unveils one first-class tune after another, many of which would ignite a rush of cover versions. Among the songs North Americans heard for the first time were "Vera Cruz," "Tres Pontas," "Morro Velho," the scatted "Catavento," and the intensely moving "Bridges" ("Travessia")" -- the latter which launched Nascimento's name on the world music scene. Singing in English, Portuguese, and often with no words at all, Nascimento's odd yet masculine and expressive baritone stands out like a moaning foghorn from the smooth A&M/Taylor sonic formula, a haunting combination. This was Nascimento before tropicalismo, when he latched onto the tail end of the bossa nova movement and quickly became one of its most inspired performers and songwriters. To some admirers, Courage remains his best record, period.

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