ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Obrigado Brazil
WORKS: Works by Mariano, Jobim, Villa-Lobos, Pixinguinha,
PERFORMER: Yo-Yo Ma (cello) & guests
CATALOGUE NO: SK 89935
Brazil is something of a favourite destination for the musician whose creative roving, or plain ennui, urges a foray outside his or her habitual idiom. Like everywhere in the age of globalisation, it is not the exotic haven it once was: the Getz/Gilberto/ Jobim ‘Girl from Ipanema’ has put bossa nova in every lift, lobby and cheesy little local restaurant, and there is nothing on Yo-Yo Ma’s Obrigado Brazil that will strike the average listener as unfamiliar or strange – apart, that is, from the cello that dominates every track, lending an incongruous presence to some infectious if slightly routine Brazilian grooves.
Ma’s ability to blend his classical manners with the rhythms of his fellow musicians – whose spontaneity has not been crushed by years in the conservatoire, and who swing as naturally as they breathe – is fitful. Only rarely does one positively wish he wasn’t there – on the two Jobim tracks featuring the enchanting vocals of Rosa Passos, perhaps – but still there remains the sense that Ma is just ‘doing’ Brazil, as some tourists ‘do’ Europe. Being a fine musician, he plays with sensitivity and passion, but I expect by now he is thinking where to go next. Christopher Wood