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[Off The Record]
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Cesaria …vora
S√O VICENTE
(WINDHAM HILL)

Cesaria Évoraís last album, the Grammy-award-nominated 1999 release Café Atlántico, was a powerful display of her command of soulful Cape Verdean song forms ó notably the melancholy morna and playful coladeira. But it broke no new ground for the 60-year old singer. Here the " barefoot diva " duets with Brazilian superstar Caetano Veloso, engages in romantic Portuguese call-and-response with Bonnie Raitt, and eases into an elegant Cuban mode backed by the classy dance band Orquesta Aragón. Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdés also makes an appearance, and the disc benefits from tasteful strings that add lush grandeur to Évoraís folksy sound without denaturing it.

After years of success, Évora can call on the best composers in her genre, and the result is one intricate, memorable melody after another. " Fada " plays like a cross between the friendliest of Brazilian pop and a gospel choir in full celebration with a hook that wonít let go. Évoraís relaxed, smoky delivery is as strong and winning as itís ever been. And for once in the much-tampered-with realm of high-level world-music singers, a team of producers, guest artists, composers, and the singerís own band have worked together to produce something coherent and consistently great ó São Vicente is the finest Évora release to date.

BY BANNING EYRE

Issue Date: July 5 - 12, 2001





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