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May 2001

Vera Mara/Paul Meyers with Brasil and Company
Brasil and Company
Cathexis Records

Here's the good part: This CD has one of the most creatively assembled set of Brazilian tunes I've seen in a long time. They've carefully chosen a broad range from the pop and jazz repertoire, from classics like Pixinguinha's "Um a Zero" and Zequinho de Abreu's "Tico-Tico No Fuba " to Jobim standards "Meditation" and "Double Rainbow" to some Hermeto Pascoal, Toninho Horta, Wayne Shorter and even "E," a Brazilian hit by the late Gonzaguinha. And the band, led by Horta-inspired guitarist Paul Meyers, has rendered some imaginative and peppy arrangements.

The bad part is, though, is vocalist Vera Mara. Though she has some bright spots, like the acrobatic vocalese on "Tico-Tico No Fub " and a lovely rendition of their original composition "Malicia," Mara has some recurring intonation problems that spoil an otherwise very pleasant disc. It often seems like she is stretching beyond her range, reminding me of Sao Paulo's Eliete Negreiros who, though she can be delightfully challenging, sometimes has similar problems. Mara shows promise and, like good wine, a bit of aging might just help smooth the edges.

Originally published in May 2001
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