Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Leny Andrade & Roni Ben-Hur: Alegria de Viver

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Though she’s extremely under-recognized outside Latin America, veteran Brazilian vocalist Leny Andrade has achieved status and esteem there equivalent of Ella, Sarah or Billie. Known for her scorching delivery and dense, earthy sound, the Rio-born Andrade remains, at 72, as vibrant and vital as ever. Her latest album represents a decided change of pace-softer, mellower, as warm and inviting as a sunrise over Corcovado. The title translates as simply “joy of living.” Eschewing her long-favored trio format, she has found an ideal duet partner in Israeli guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, whom she met in 2012 when she guest-lectured at his Brazilian music camp in Bar Harbor.

While Andrade has surveyed most of the Brazilian jazz songbook over the years, here she was determined to focus solely on classic compositions she’d never previously recorded. It is a bountiful assortment, including such gems as Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Estrada Branca” (“This Happy Madness”), Dori Caymmi and Nelson Motta’s “Cantador” (made famous in the mid-1960s by both Sylvia Telles and Elis Regina and, as “Like a Lover,” by Sergio Mendes), Roberto Silva’s “Rugas,” singer-songwriter Tito Mati’s “Balanço Zona Sul,” choro legend Pixinguinha’s “Carinhoso” and bossa pioneer Johnny Alf’s “O Que é Amar.” Andrade also chose Jobim’s tender “Ana Luisa” in honor of Ben-Hur’s like-named daughter. End-to-end it is a flawlessly beautiful alliance, capped by Andrade and Ben-Hur’s magisterial handling of a third Jobim masterpiece, the fragile “Dindi.”

Originally Published