Clarice Assad

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Considering how lauded Clarice Assad is as a composer -- as well as a pianist and singer renowned for her Brazilian scat technique -- it's perhaps remarkable that this is only her third solo disc. But she grabs the opportunity with both hands, showcasing not only her stunning interpretation of Brazilian songs -- four of them put together as a medley in the opener "For Elis," an homage to the great Elis Regina -- but also a couple of original compositions. She brings formidable piano and vocal technique to the music, and a singular vision that sees things in a unique way; her take on Gilberto Gil's "Patuscada de Ghandi" is simply her voice over a pair of percussionists, while "Dora" is treated with beautiful lushness. Her own "Ad Lib," which she's recorded in other configurations, is actually a gloriously tight work that gives a showcase to her pianistic and vocal abilities. "The Last Song," in a nice twist of irony, has no vocals, a loving instrumental that does ache. Everything here lives up to Assad's reputation, and even furthers it; she's a talent quite beyond compare. There's certainly no one like her in Brazilian music, and it's to be hoped that she makes another recorded outing very soon.

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