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Maria Rita: Segundo

As Jamie Cullum is to the U.K., so Maria Rita is to Brazil, emerging as the hottest, most refreshing thing to hit the local jazz scene since the turn of the 21st century. Like Cullum, the twentysomething Rita’s breakthrough album, her self-titled 2003 debut, became the year’s biggest selling jazz release in her native country, ultimately topping 800,000 in worldwide sales.

Like Cullum, she attracts pop star-sized audiences to her concerts. As with Cullum, her follow-up release, titled simply Segundo (Portuguese for “second”), builds significantly on the strengths of its predecessor. Like Cullum, she encourages bold, new songwriting talents, most notably Rodrigo Maranhao, who contributes the album’s sinuous opening track, “Caminho das Aguas,” and the vigorous follow-up “Recado.”

Unlike Cullum, she hails from jazz royalty, the daughter of esteemed Brazilian vocalist Elis Regina and equally idolized pianist-arranger-composer Cesar Camargo Mariano. Unlike Cullum, she’s yet to secure a solid foothold in the U.S. market (though, given her pedigree and the immensity of her skill, such should only be a matter of time). Oh, and where Cullum suggests a tornado of uninhibited talent, Rita is more a tropical storm that occasionally softens to a bracing offshore breeze without ever losing power.

Originally Published