Friday, December 28, 2007

"Brazilian Butterfly" review - "Cadence"

Ithamara Koorax - "Brazilian Butterfly" review
"Cadence" magazine, April 2007 issue, pages 34 & 35

A Jazz singer who enjoys the popular side of her art, Ithamara Koorax emphasizes power-driven samba on this varied program of Brazilian songs. She's exciting. Her program includes Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly", a lovely ballad that affords her an opportunity to tell its tale in English, expressively with a delicate air. The remainder of the program is sung in Portuguese with plenty of energy to propel Koorax and her band.

She's a powerful singer with an extended vocal range. For effect, she uses her uppermost register to wail emotionally, both with lyrics and without. Koorax is no butterfly. Her voice pushes hard throughout the session as she drives in celebration of the street samba and all its magnetism. If anything, she's a hawk or an eagle in her musical attack. She and her accompanists drive a hard bargain that sells through enthusiasm, spirit, and musical creativity. Soloists who join her in the spotlight with effective creations include pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, trombonist Raul de Souza, painist/organist Paula Faour, and baritone saxophonist José Carlos Ramos.

Several selections by Dorival Caymmi spread warmth around the room. Brazil's tradition is never far from reach as Koorax maintains a firm grasp of the country's popular music and its overlap with Jazz. "Carinhoso" finds the singer rambling comfortably in a ballad ambiance with electric bass and electric piano providing a romantic texture. The program closes with an original song, "Frenético", on which Koorax is joined by male scat singer Eloir de Moraes in an extended piece that recalls the heyday of Bebop and the Beat Generation. Ever the unique artist, Koorax screams up high to contrast Moraes' Dizzy Gillespie-like interpretation.

She's unique. Her program folds the creative spirit of Jazz into a popular Brazilian plataform.

- Jim Santella, copyright Cadence 2007

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