Ithamara Koorax is often likened to Astrud Gilberto. On the surface, it's a fair comparison. Koorax, though, is gutsier. There's a fire in her belly that melts those icy Gilberto edges. Four years ago she teamed with 16 of Brazil's finest players (Marcos Valle and Gonzalo Rubalcaba among them) to deliver the purposefully accessible Serenade in Blue, filled with such familiar favorites as "Mas Que Nada," "Summer Samba," "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "Brazil." Though gorgeous, it rarely swam too far from the mainstream. Now she's back with the decidedly more challenging Love Dance (Milestone). Singing in English, Portuguese, Spanish and German, Koorax tackles an international playlist that extends from the misty splendor of Jobim's "Ligia" (dedicated to Stanley Turrentine) to the moody iridescence of "April in Paris." Valle and Rubalcaba both return for blazing solos, but the most distinguished guest of honor is Luiz Bonf . Legendary guitarist John McLaughlin (in his first ever recording with a vocalist) enables Koorax to transform the contemplative majesty of his "Man Alone" (dedicated to tireless scrapper Jimmy Scott) into 10 minutes that redefine Brazilian beauty.