When the 20th Century was coming to a close Ithamara Koorax was a major name in Brazilian pop-jazz but didn't have any CDs out in the United States. That changed in 2000, when Fantasy licensed Serenade in Blue from Jazz Station and put it out on Milestone in the United States. Koorax is from Rio de Janeiro, and her Rio upbringing is evident throughout this excellent pop-jazz effort (which was recorded in 1997 and 1998). Whether she's turning her attention to Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada," Ary Barroso's "Brazil," Henry Mancini's "Moon River," or the French pop classic "A Man and a Woman" ("Un Homme et Une Femme" in French), Rio's sensuous, caressing influence asserts itself. Koorax, to her credit, has no problem singing convincingly in three languages: Portuguese, English, and French. When Koorax sings in English on "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "Moon River," she does so with a Brazilian accent. But her English is excellent, and the carioca (Rio native) is easy to understand -- if anything, her accent is a major asset because it's quite charming. Serenade in Blue makes one hope that a lot more Koorax albums will become available in North America.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson