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CD Review: Bebel Gilberto's 'Momento'

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Artist: Bebel Gilberto
Album: Momento
Label: Six Degrees Records
Release Date: 04/27/2007

Queen of the bossa nova, Bebel Gilberto is on tour promoting her newly released album, Momento. She was supposed to play the El Rey last night and tonight but this hadto be rescheduled to a later date for some reason. With all the heat and fires and smoke, the smooth, soothing, and romantic tones of Bebel might be what the doctor ordered for SoCal.

Gilberto comes from a musical family (Joao Gilberto is her father, and her mother is Miucha) and she's actively been popularizing the bossa nova, samba, and Brazilian pop genres for over 20 years. She brings a maturity and confidence to her recordings that make you realize that this is a woman's vision and voice, compared relative "newcomers" like the youthful CeU and the highly experimental and dance-driven Bonde Do Role.

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Even though Gilberto states that she was "trying different approaches, [and] experimenting with different sounds" this collection of recordings sounds very traditional in terms of rhythms, instrumentation, and song structure. There's nothing wrong with this - despite being an electronica devotee, I do love hearing music that can be played by a band without computers or sequencers. The most conservative tunes are 'Tranquilo'(truly excellent!), and 'Words'. There are many tranquil and sultry pieces, like the title track, "Azul", and "Night and Day" backed by strummed guitars and gentle rhythms, but Gilberto likes to throw several subtle flavorings. "Close To You", for example, features some pleasantly doubled vocals on the chorus, and some underlying synth strings way way off in the distance.

The most uptempo tune is "Bring Back The Love" which was a collaboration with Brazillian Girls (who are from New York City, go figure) and even this is probably the most mellow dance tune I've heard in a while. One might think that because Gilberto doesn't go to extremes that this music would be unremarkable but it's her consistency and adherence to quality and tradition that makes this recording so satisfying. To take the edge of the heat, make a mojito or something else tropical, and sit back and enjoy the sounds of Bebel Gilberto.