Stunning as Brazilian diva Rosa Passos’ contributions to touring companion Yo-Yo Ma’s Obrigado Brazil discs are, and gloriously multifaceted as Amorosa, her 2004 North American recording debut, is, perhaps Passos can best be appreciated stripped of everything but her own guitar, as she glides through bossa tunes both familiar and new with the soft, leisurely diaphanousness of a slow-passing cloud.
Listening to Rosa on Rosa, I was reminded of the old Four Freshmen chestnut “Love Turns Winter to Spring.” Not that Passos in any way echoes the Freshmen’s muscular harmonics, but because Rosa suggests the gradual melting of winter into spring’s promise of not just warmth but hope. (Look no further than “Jardim,” the Portuguese translation of her Amorosa recording mate Henri Salvador’s trademark “Jardin d’hiver,” for unequivocal proof.)
The cornerstones here are Augusto Mesquita’s “Molambo” and Jobim’s equally exquisite “Eu Não Existo Sem Voce,” which, dating from the late 1950s, together provided the soundtrack for Passos’ infancy. But it is in the beauty of such self-composed delights as “Sutilezas,” “Detalhe” and “Demasiado Blue” that Passos fully lives up to the tender fragility of her first name.