Maria Jo‹o

PERFORMER: Maria João (v), Mario Laginha (p), Wolfgang Muthspiel (g, sitar), Trilok Gurtu (perc)
CATALOGUE NO: 557 456-2
Some of the most exciting music put out under the jazz banner these days is ‘crossover’, be it African, Indian or Latin. The multi-culti possibilities are endless, as Portuguese singer Maria João demonstrates so powerfully here by combining the lot in scintill ating style.


Travels in Mozambique and Hindustan were the inspiration for pianist Laginha’s compositions. But the sound, dominated by João’s stratospheric scat singing, has tempestuous Portuguese fado at its root. Fado, a declamatory singing style, itself derived from African and Brazilian influences.

Like the fadistas of Lisbon and Coimbra, João emotes clearly and passionately. But there’s more: African chants and ululation, the shrill Romanticism of North India, softly swishing samba in the native tongue – João sources her sounds from around the globe. And as a jazz improviser she combines sweeping range and agility with great ears for her sidemen.


In support, Laginha is an explosive two-handed pianist while Muthspiel, essentially an electric jazz guitarist, happily embraces Latin and Indian classical manners. What a pity that peerless percussionist Trilok Gurtu sits in for two numbers only. Garry Booth