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November 2001

Gilberto Gil/Milton Nascimento
Gil and Milton
Atlantic Records

Two Brazilian superstars finally team up in a charming collection of 15 songs, five of them created for this collaboration. Gil, the leading light of the tropicalismo movement, and Nascimento, also a universal musical and political influence, are approaching their 60s in splendid voice and high spirits. The CD is loaded with good humor, rhythmic variety and, of course, musicianship in depth.

Their compatibility is immediately obvious as they trade stanzas in their new song, "Sebastian," about the saint who protects Rio de Janeiro. Nascimento's grainy baritone and emotional delivery contrast with Gil's light tenor and precise diction, the two blending deliciously in the out-chorus. The duo becomes a richly voiced quartet on "Duas Sanfonas" with the addition of singers identified only as Sandy and Junior. Gil and Nana Caymmi's moving "Bom Dia" incorporates a 37-voice girls' choir and a string section. George Harrison's "Something," sung in English by Gil, brings in mild rock elements and harmonies the Beatles would have killed for. "Maria," not to be confused with the Leonard Bernstein song or Nascimento's "Maria, Maria," is a gorgeous love song. The new "Lar Hospitalar" begins as a classic bossa nova but quickly becomes a rockish romp. The two sing an impassioned duet on Jorge Ben's "Xica da Silva," referring to the 18th century slave who became one of Brazil's most powerful women. They offer a new version of Nascimento's "Cancao do Sal," the song that made him famous as a writer when Elis Regina recorded it in 1966.

This is a substantial album, full of delights. It is a major disappointment that Atlantic's booklet reproduces the lyrics only in Portuguese for its English-speaking buyers. Surely, someone at the label knows that the words about essentials of human existence-love, faith, war and social injustice-are crucial.

Originally published in November 2001
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