Maria Jo‹o

COMPOSERS: Maria Jo‹o
LABELS: Verve
WORKS: Cor
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.

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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.

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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