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May 2008

Clarice Assad
Love, All That It Is
NSS

As Brazilian dynasties go, few can rival the breadth or depth of the tri-generational Assad clan. Legendary guitarist Jorge and his vocalist wife Angelina begot globally acclaimed guitarist brothers Sergio and Odair (best known for their classical repertoire, though equally at home with homegrown jazz and pop) and their equally admired singer/guitarist sister, Badi (numbered, by Guitar Player magazine, among the 100 greatest players). Clarice, Sergio’s eldest daughter, arrived in 1978, developing into a fine classical and jazz pianist, composer and jazz-infused pop stylist with a voice that can sometimes seem as pure and delicate as a freshly plucked gardenia and other times as towering and robust as a sky-scraping sequoia.

Sometimes she’s as sweet and tender as Jane Monheit, other times as earthy and powerful as the young Aretha Franklin. To experience the Assad family en masse, wade into their sumptuous A Brazilian Songbook, recorded live in Brussels in 2004. For appreciation of Clarice’s solo appeal, start with this ambitious 11-song cycle—music by Assad, English lyrics from Naomi Major—that follows a romantic arc from the dewy optimism of the title track, through the tender contentment of “He” and soul-stirring satisfaction of “We Cannot Make,” on to the urgent volatility of “Alas” and the delicious vengeance of “You’ll Get It Back.” By the time you reach the postrelationship self-renewal of “I’m Good,” you’ll have discovered a fine, fresh singer (and pianist) who’s also a first-rate storyteller.

Originally published in May 2008
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