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Virginia Rodrigues: Sol Negro

Virginia Rodrigues hails from Bahia, the most African-influenced region of Brazil. The choice of material on this release is meant to reflect that fact. Rodrigues’s contralto voice is otherwordly, spiritual, exquisite. You can hear her “unique timber,” as musical director Caetano Veloso puts it, unaccompanied on “Veronica,” with just a harp on “Israfel,” or with a complement of reeds and percussion on the samba “Adeus Batucada.” She does a bit of vocalese on “Querubim,” with Flavio Melo’s trumpet as foil. On “Terra Seca,” Virginia is joined by vocalists Gilberto Gil and Djavan, while the title cut is a duet with Milton Nascimento.

Rodrigues also interprets two Caetano Veloso songs, Dorival Caymmi’s “Noite de Temporal,” and the Luiz Bonfa standard “Manha de Carnaval.” Percussionist Ramiro Musotto is extraordinary, particularly when playing the berimbaus. Credit is due to Veloso and producer/arranger Celso Fonseca for showcasing Rodrigues celestial voice in a simple, unadorned context.

Originally Published