She is the contemporary incarnation of the girl from Ipanema—tall, tan, young and lovely, with bossa nova coursing, quite literally, through her veins. So, it should come as no surprise that Bebel Gilberto has emerged as the most popular Brazilian performer to storm international shores since her father, João, and his first wife, Astrud, put Brazilian jazz on the world map more than four decades ago.
Bebel’s breathy dreaminess recalls the misty Astrud, but the Gilberto progeny explores wider musical horizons. Hers is a distinctly more pop-jazz sound, her sunniness is occasionally clouded by stormy sentiments (as demonstrated in this, her third album, on the tantalizingly moody “Close to You”), and there’s a heightened emotional richness to her languid sultriness (witness the gentle heat of “Azul” and the heart-torching fire of “Caçada”).
But Gilberto, smart enough to not turn her back on her core audience, also ensures that the club crowd isn’t disappointed, teaming with Brazilian Girls on the distinctly dance-floor-worthy “Bring Back the Love” and paying shimmering tribute to her adopted hometown of New York with the hypnotic samba “Os Novos Yorkinos.” Nor does she neglect holdover listeners from her parents’ generation, serving up a “Night and Day” that suggests soft ocean waves caressing hot sand. In other words, she has not only inherited a precious musical gift, but knows precisely how to sell it.