Celso Fonseca

Rive Gauche Rio (Six Degrees)

If you were to hear one of Celso Fonseca's mesmerizing bossa novas perambulating from the radio, you might think it was Joao Gilberto making a comeback. There are the same tricky, stop-start rhythms Gilberto (now in his 70s) used to employ, the same softly percussive guitar playing. Maybe Fonseca's singing doesn't command your attention the way Gilberto's did, but it's definitely in the same less-is-more bossa nova tradition: restrained, without histrionics. It's the voice of somebody telling a story --somebody who knows that big events only get bigger when described in a flat, matter-of-fact tone. The stories here are all richly compelling, even when you don't understand the language. Most are about sadness and loss, emotions that Brazilian songsters tend to wallow in (the word saudades, Brazilian Portuguese for the whole range of separation emotions, never makes an appearance, but the idea is plastered all over the CD). Thus, we have beleza triste (sad beauty) in "O Rio Para Tras," the disappearance of a loved one in "Perdi," and a charmingly self-deprecating ditty about musicians as poseurs in "Don de Fluir" (a duet with Jorge Drexler, winner of the 2005 Oscar for Best Song). If you don't at least nod your head rhythmically to these tunes, get a checkup. You may have cement in your veins.

 
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