Ithamara Koorax

Serenade in Blue: My Favorite Songs

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The third issue of Brazilian jazz singer Ithamara Koorax's lovely and tempestuous Serenade in Blue: My Favorite Songs is a mark of just what kind of authority she carries as a vocalist and an interpreter of classic material. The album was produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro and Deodato, and features a venerable -- even legendary -- cast of players, including countrymen Dom Um Romao, Airto, Nelson Ângelo, Marcos Valle, Azymuth, Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and guitarist Jay Berliner, among others. Koorax's selection of material is as stunning as it is challenging. Here is one of the finest, most innovative reads of "Ma Que Nada" ever committed to tape, and her version of Valle's "Samba de Verão" does the composer proud. Also, her beautifully sultry take on Ary Baroso's "Aquarela Do Brasil" is a sleek and sexy party anthem. Likewise, the standards, such as her deeply moving version of Henry Mancini's "Moon River," featuring the glorious harp of Cristina Braga, places the tune in an entirely new context. The contemporary performance of Johnny Mercer's "Shadow of Your Smile" moves the song into another dimension. While Love Dance extended Koorax's reputation to Anglo audiences, Serenade in Blue is no less important.

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