Individually, vocalist Maucha Adnet and pianist Helio Alves boast impressive résumés. She has collaborated with Charlie Byrd, Dori Caymmi, Eliane Elias, Gilberto Gil and Toninho Horta, and spent a decade touring and recording with Antonio Carlos Jobim. He’s partnered with an equally illustrious assortment of artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Henderson and Paquito D’Rivera. But the two Brazilians’ finest performances, spanning two decades, have been side-by-side.
Now, at long last, Adnet and Alves have united for an album, a 14-track compendium that captures a kinship that is the musical equivalent of water and air: distinct yet vitally interdependent. Alves is the sun-dappled sea, alternately roiling and calm but consistently deep, powerful and mysterious. Adnet is the vast sky, sometimes cloudy and occasionally stormy.
Together they strip bare both familiar gems (Caymmi’s “O Cantador,” Jobim’s “Caminhos Cruzados” and the near-century-old “Tico-Tico no Fubá”) and lesser-known classics (notably the Jobim film theme “Gabriela” and Edu Lobo and Vinicius de Moraes’ mournful “Canto Triste”), fully restoring their raw beauty. While Alves never falters, Adnet does stumble once. In the liner notes she admits to being somewhat challenged by the idea of singing “Waters of March” in English, and her discomfort shows. How much better, and truer to the spirit of the album, if she’d kept to Jobim’s original Portuguese lyric.