[JPL] Brazilian Ballads of Pure Seduction

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 20 13:26:46 EST 2006

November 16, 2006
Music Review | 'Marisa Monte'
Brazilian Ballads of Pure Seduction 
Simple beauty isn’t enough for Marisa Monte, the
Brazilian singer and songwriter who finished her
United States tour on Tuesday night at the Beacon
Theater. Her music was exquisite and thoughtful, as
usual; her staging was arty and often distracting. 

Ms. Monte has a voice that caresses every note she
sings and an ear for melody, whether it’s in an old
samba or a Motown-flavored rock tune. Her aspirations
are large. She started her concert with the title song
of one of two albums she has released simultaneously,
“Infinito Particular” (Metro Blue/EMI), cooing, “Don’t
get lost when you enter my private infinity” as the
music glimmered serenely. She sang in darkness, with
just one spotlight illuminating her face for a few

Through a career that began in the late 1980s, Ms.
Monte has become a star in Brazil while her music has
drawn closer to home. On her early albums she looked
toward jazz and soul from the United States, drawing
songs from Gershwin and Marvin Gaye as well as bossa
nova, and mixing rock rhythms with Brazilian ones.
“Tribalistas,” her 2002 collaboration with the
songwriters Carlinhos Brown and Arnaldo Antunes that
became a major hit album in Brazil, often leaned
toward rock. 

But on “Infinito Particular” and its companion album,
“Universo ao Meu Redor” (Metro Blue/EMI), Ms. Monte
personalizes the Brazilian ballad, surrounding gentle
tunes in untraditional yet felicitous arrangements.
Her band onstage included bassoon, flugelhorn, cello
and harmonica along with the traditional small samba
guitar, the cavaquinho, and enough guitars and
percussion for intricate picking and subtle rhythms.
“Universo ao Meu Redor,” which means “Universe Around
Me,” is steeped in samba, featuring Ms. Monte’s songs
alongside some older tunes, like “Meu Canário,” that
have been known around Rio de Janeiro, but not
previously recorded. It’s an album of delicate,
small-scale samba with songs about private longings,
not the booming samba of Carnival. 

Most of Ms. Monte’s newer music is quiet, and it
seemed she didn’t trust it to hold her audience. Her
band performed with no backdrop — the brick wall of
the Beacon was visible — but there were moving,
lighted panels and columns overhead and around the
band. At times the columns at the sides danced along
with the music; the back panel could turn into a video

Perhaps the staging was intended to remind the
audience that performance and music are both
artificial constructions. But the self-consciousness
would have been better set aside, even concealed, to
invite listeners deeper into Ms. Monte’s
introspection. In two of the quietest ballads of the
set — “Carnalismo” and “Pernambucobucolismo” — Ms.
Monte’s voice was pure seduction, and the audience was
spellbound. And when she arrived at some rockers at
the end of the set, the crowd was on its feet, singing


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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