Sheila Landis

Colors of Brazil

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SheLan Records, whose recording stable consists solely of vocalist Sheila Landis and guitarist Rick Matle, celebrates its 20th anniversary with the latest collaboration of these two confederates on Colors of Brazil. The album is not all new, using some remixed material recorded as early as 1981. Other cuts come from the 21st annual Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival held in 2000. The duo has put together a musical potpourri made up of originals and familiar material, all with a Latin bent. Landis has long been known for her unconventional, but always ear-opening, approach to the music. One audacious track is "What a Difference a Day Made," not done the way Dinah Washington sang it. With a throbbing Latin beat provided by Matle plus quartet and driven by Dennis Sheridan's Latin percussion, Landis inserts bird calls, wordless vocalizing, and assorted other cries between the lyrics. On this one, she takes no prisoners. Standards are not spared from the inventive approach taken by Landis/Matle and friends. "Summertime" is an up-tempo South of the Border romp with Scott Petersen laying out significant licks on the soprano sax. "The Girl From Ipanema" is done in three languages -- Portuguese, English, and scat -- as Landis improvises, changing the phrasing and timing to suit her perception of this classic, and again, it's not the way Ella Fitzgerald sang it. Only a singer who has supreme self-assurance in her artistry and technical skills can get away doing these off the beaten track arrangements. As the session moves along, it becomes more and more obvious that Landis is perfectly confident that she can be on the mark with any note or any form of vocalizing, anytime she wants. Highly recommended.

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