Maria Farinha: Planeta Banana

The song-o-saurus label has quietly emerged as a reliable source for today’s most spellbinding Brazilian jazz. With its danceable, bright grooves and lovely ballads of longing, Maria Farinha’s Planeta Banana (song-o-saurus 724776; 50:55) is no exception. In her debut out in front of the band, Brazilian vocalist Farinha shines equally on fast-phrased, twisting melodies like the gleeful “Chiclete Con Banana” and romantic ballads like Jobim’s “Fotografia.” Farinha’s embracing alto executes the technically difficult classic braziljazz style with emotion and style-warm and mysterious on the bolero “Te Extrano,” and brightly staccato on the frenetic, dancy “Bananeira” (about a lover who talks to a banana tree). Farinha is supported throughout by the prickly guitar work of Richie Zellon and an extraordinary band which executes the complicated rhythms and textures with style. A must-have for any Brasiljazz fan.