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Claudia Villela with Kenny Werner: Dreamtales

Dreamtales, the latest from South American vocal sensation Claudia Villela, should come with a warning: Alert! Your senses are about to be brilliantly arrested. The closest the jazz world is likely to ever come to a female Bobby McFerrin, the Brazilian-born genius with the blistering five-octave range is expertly skilled at working without a net.

Here she teams with the equally exceptional Werner, on piano, for 65 minutes of undiluted improvisation (nothing was planned or discussed before the two met in the studio) that is a Pandora’s Box of explosive creativity. Villela’s only instructions, as we hear spoken at the album’s opening, were “just go for it.” And they do, channeling not just the sounds but also the motivational spirits of McFerrin, Milton Nascimento, Jon Hendricks and, most profoundly, Antonio Carlos Jobim with the four-minute masterpiece “Tom’s Waters,” a reinvigoration of Jobim’s “Waters of March” that pours forth like a tidal wave of uninhibited imagination.

Not for the casual listener, Dreamtales is a wake-up call for even the most sophisticated fan of free-form composition.

Originally Published