Tania Maria


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Though pianist and singer Tânia Maria's Intimidade was originally released in the fall of 2005, it didn't become domestically available in the U.S. until the next year when Blue Note issued it, which is a good thing for American fans of Brazilian jazz, or jazz, or just good music in general. Because Intimidade is a great album, rich and full while not sounding ornate. It's an intimate affair (hence the title, perhaps), Maria with her bassist (bassists actually, as there are three that play on the album, including the great Eddie Gómez, with whom she has a conversation -- both musical and verbal -- on "E' Tão Gostoso Seu Moco") and percussionists working together to create sophisticated, sensual, warm music that comes out of the speakers and into the room like something tangible, something with substance and actual measurable qualities like viscosity and weight. Maria's voice (the word "sultry" is often used to describe it, and is an appropriate choice) is clearly the star of the record, her scat-and-piano solos acting as a bridge between the vocals and the instrumentation (which is just as strong) behind it; she's comfortable moving between elements of funk and pop within her normal jazz and samba routine. Her version of "Besame Mucho" is fantastic, seductive, and nicely syncopated, with a piano solo that echoes lines of Billie Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday." In fact, Maria is more than willing to reference her American influences, from Sarah Vaughan to Ray Charles to Burt Bacharach as she goes through original pieces as well as some great Latin classics ("Agua de Beber," "Evocaçao"), which work quite well, showing off her versatility without sacrificing any of the passion or great rhythms. Intimidade is the work of a mature, talented artist who's been around long enough to know how to make everything she does sound near perfect.

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