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Flora Purim: Speak No Evil

If there’s a headier combination than Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, I’ve yet to hear it. In a dual career that spans three decades and nearly three dozen albums, the Queen of Brazilian jazz and her percussionist husband hit a new high with Speak No Evil, arguably their most intriguing outing since their Return to Forever days of the early ’70s.

Navigating an eclectic playlist that pays homage to both their native country and adopted U.S. homeland, Purim and Moreira seem contentedly torn between fiery festivity and moody reflection. The pair opens with a shimmering “This Magic,” vibrant as a Carnaval parade yet beautiful as sunrise over Corcovado, then sambas into a bouncy “You Go to My Head” that’s coolly evocative of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme.” Wayne Shorter’s title track, jangling with barely subdued menace, is juxtaposed with a sinfully sensuous “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and a mellow “I Feel You” that floats by on clouds of sweet reminiscence. Their cosmopolitan gambol through the Gershwins’ “It Ain’t Necessarily So” captures the sly show tune’s requisite sagacity while deftly avoiding any hint of cynicism.

It is, however, the iridescent reverence of “Primeira Estrela,” extracted from Moreira’s Brazilian Spiritual Mass, that elevates Speak No Evil from worldly-wise to outright heavenly.

Originally Published