If you are a true connoisseur of Brazilian pop, you can't help but treasure Chico César. The charismatic native of Northeastern Brazil sings and writes about his country with the type of insights that Brazilians expect from greats like Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, and Caetano Veloso. Recorded live in São Paolo, Aos Vivos documents a very intimate performance by César. "Intimate" is definitely the word to describe this recording; the singer/composer (who is heard on guitar) doesn't employ a full band, and that's just as well because the intimate nature of the performances really makes the vocals and the lyrics jump out at you. Even if you don't understand a word of Portuguese, you can feel César's performances of major hits like "A Primeira Vista" (which was recorded by Brazilian superstar Daniela Mercury and became the theme of a popular Brazilian soap opera), "Mulher Eu Sei," and the reggae-influenced "Mama Africa." But if you do speak any Portuguese, it's impossible not to admire his insights. For that matter, those who speak Spanish can easily find themselves appreciating César's lyrics. A Spanish speaker won't understand all of his lyrics if he/she hasn't actually studied Portuguese -- Spanish and Portuguese are quite similar, but hardly identical. Nonetheless, those who know a lot of Spanish should be able to make out some of the lyrics and know what César's songs are about. But regardless of what languages you do or don't speak, this excellent CD is enthusiastically recommended to anyone who is interested in modern Brazilian pop.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson