Bossa nova is NOT elevator music.
Now this is an interesting project; Brazilian standards and newly-composed music interpreted or transfigured by the old masters, rock stars and cutting-edge '90s musicians - with all the proceeds going to fight the spread of AIDS. What is so remarkable about this album is how wholeheartedly the younger musicians relate to the cruising Brazilian ethos, often without taking the edge off their own idioms. Anyone with open ears, an adventurous spirit, and a bent for Brazilian music should sample this album.
- Use A Sua Cabeça (Use Your Head) - Money Mark: a too-brief modernized samba knock-off.
- Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars) - Everything But The Girl: a bossa nova standard written by Antonio Carlos Jobim in '62. By the time they recorded this, EBTG were deep into their drum-and-bass phase, so this version is done in that manner. Still, songwriting this good is hard to mess up.
- Desafinado (Off Key) - Astrud Gilberto & George Michael: more Jobim! George Michael sings sotto voce and is barely recognizable. Gilberto is money, as always. A good duet.
- Non-Fiction Burning - PM Dawn with Flora Purim + Airto: An interesting mix. This is hard to describe because its not quite hip-hop and not quite Brazilian. I like it.
- The Boy from Ipanema - Crystal Waters: Still more Jobim! Unfortunately, this fusion doesn't quite succeed.
- Segurança (Security) - Maxwell: a haunting original with a midnight bolero groove. Maxwell is in fine voice here.
- É Precisco Perdoar (You Must Forgive) - Cesária Évora + Caetano Veloso with Ryuichi Sakamoto: This song is a little heavy and slow. I know that Évora and Veloso are critics' darlings, but I don't care for their voices here.
- Water to Drink (Agua De Beber) - Incognito with Omar + Anna Caram: I would have thought that Incognito doing a Jobim cover would be a match made in heaven, but this falls flat.
- Dancing...- Milton Nascimento: Nascimento is a Brazilian pop icon, so it's nice to see him included here. This song is representative of his quality work.
- How Insensitive - Antonio Carlos Jobim + Sting: A great straight-ahead version of this standard. Sting should really stick to rock music, preferably in the style of the Police.
- Waters of March - David Byrne + Marisa Monte: Another fine Jobim song and Marisa Monte has a great voice for it. Byrne proves that he shouldn't be let anywhere near Latin music. His vocals ruin the track.
- One Note Samba/Surfboard - Stereolab + Herbie Mann: And yet more Jobim! One of my favorites on this disc. Typical Stereolab Moog genius lays the groundwork for floating flute solos by Mann.
- Black Orpheus Dub - Mad Professor: Bossa meets reggae. S'awite, mon.
- Maracatú Atômico - Chico Science + Nação Zumbi X DJ Soul Slinger: I don't know how to describe this except that it's not very good. I want to press the skip button.
- Refazenda (Refarm) - Gilberto Gil: another Brazilian pop and cultural icon. Great stuff. Portuguese is such a beautiful language.
- Preciso Dizer Que Te Amo - Cazuza + Bebel Gilberto: this is a home recording made in 1986. Cazuza died of AIDS in 1990. Very moving and a most appropriate ending to the disc.