Mariano, Jobim, Villa-Lobos, Pixinguinha

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Jobim,Mariano,Pixinguinha,Villa-Lobos
LABELS: Sony
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.

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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