How do a Dutch-born émigré and her Florida-bred husband come to shape a musical salute to San Francisco? They don’t. This fourth album from vocalist Fleurine, featuring her esteemed spouse, pianist Brad Mehldau, among the accompanists, has nothing to do with California’s City by the Bay. Instead, the angelic Fleurine, whose voice can only, paradoxically, be described as sturdily fragile (commanding and assured when appropriate, but equally capable of ethereal cloudiness), has transformed her lifelong love of Brazilian music into a salute to three favorite composers—Francisco “Chico” Buarque de Hollanda, Francisco “Chico” Pinheiro and Francis Hime—who happen to share a first name (and whose contributions to the Brazilian canon she presumably finds saintly).
In addition, recognizing that many American fans are charmed by Brazilian songs but would better appreciate their sentiments if they could understand the words, she has augmented nearly half of the 11 tracks with English lyrics. As Fleurine progresses from the bruised wisdom of “Love Marks” (adapted from Hime and Buarque’s “Trocando em Miüdos”) and gentle sway of “Encontro” (gorgeously dueting with Pinheiro, who doubles on guitar) to the slowly eruptive “Tempestade” (where Chris Potter literally blows up a storm on tenor sax) and then quietly back to earth, accompanied solely by Mehldau, with the petal-soft “Spring-Buds Through the Snow,” the results are nothing short of splendiferous.