Though Canto is being promoted as Brazilian pianist and vocalist Tania Maria’s 25th release, its 10 tracks, culled from 2005 and 2008 studio sessions in Paris and São Paulo, actually pre-date 2011’s Tempo, her cozy pairing with bassist Eddie Gomez. In addition, half the selections are revisited from earlier projects. Still, there’s an invigorating freshness to this album, a vivid urgency that is irresistible.
Maria is clearly in a partying mood, as are the alternating quintets of Brazilian revelers who, heavy on brass and percussion, ride shotgun throughout this joyously wild romp. She immediately sets the fevered pace with a fast and loose “Chorinho Brasileiro,” and thereafter slows only twice, to float across a twilit treatment of the title tune and later to wade through the magisterial “Zé Marmita.” Her “Florzinha,” an explosive reimagining of Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur” introduced on 2000’s Viva Brazil, burns brighter and hotter here, as does the two-decade-old “Ça C’est Bon,” the vocal reins handed to the spirited trio Coro Copacabana. Even “Intimidade,” the tender title track from Maria’s 2006 Blue Note release, is infused with heightened energy.
Canto reaches its thundering apex just past the midway point with the riotous, quasi-African “Vou te Amar” (also featuring the vibrant Coro), then crests again at album’s end with the circus-like instrumental “Thanks Mr. G,” four minutes of kaleidoscopic joie de vivre.