Scion of one of Brazil’s great musical dynasties, vocalist, arranger, composer and pianist Clarice Assad draws upon her entire classical-jazz-pop heritage on the 11 originals—10 sung in Portuguese, one in English—that fill Imaginarium. A richly collaborative project, it took well over a year to complete, ultimately involving more than 50 musicians, singers, poets and lyricists, including special guest appearances by Romero Lubambo, Sofia Rei and Luciana Souza.
The title refers to a creative repository, a wellspring of inspiration—in this case centered on Assad’s metaphoric view of nature, inspired by birds and flowers, particularly as it relates to the human condition. Rapper Ramonzin ignites the opening “De Perna Pro Ar,” an urgent reminder that nature, human or otherwise, is often as chaotic as it is harmonious. Thereafter, Assad’s panoply travels in various directions, from the delicate, Asian-influenced “Fantasia” and elegiac “A Morte Da Flor” (a remarkable showcase for operatic soprano Melody Moore) to the jaunty, Lubambo-propelled “Da Imaginaçâo” and joyous “Pássaros.”
Grandest is her teaming with Rei and a phalanx of backing singers on the jagged, mechanized “Revolta Das Flores.” Loveliest is “Perto Do Luar,” a gently flowing pas de deux with Souza. Most magical is “Why?,” a garden-bed showdown between a trembling pansy (soprano Yulia Van Doren), a plucky daisy (soprano Melissa Wegner) and the thundering Flower God (baritone Jonathan Kimple).