September 2000

Bebel Gilberto - Tanto Tempo
Six Degrees Records 657036 1026-2
Released: 2000

by Todd Warnke

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on CD]While the acorn may not fall from the tree, it seems that with rare exception musical talent is not a genetic trait (Wilson Phillips proves this rule even as Jakob Dylan is the rarity). So when confronted with an album by the daughter of Joćo and Astrud Gilberto, one’s first reaction might well be to keep the remote close at hand, one finger poised over the mute button.

For those of short memory, Astrud Gilberto was the voice of "The Girl from Ipanema," from Getz/Gilberto (incidentally, the last jazz album to win the Album of the Year Grammy), while the Gilberto of the album title was Joćo. Astrud, accompanying her husband on his first trip to the States, was not a singer, but was chosen for the vocals because her rudimentary grasp of English exceeded that of any of the other Brazilian musicians who also accompanied Joćo to the recording session. From that accidental beginning, she went on to have a moderately successful career as a jazz/bossa nova singer, and for the casual fan of the genre, remained the face of bossa nova. Joćo, on the other hand, was already a legend, at least in Brazil, when he recorded with Getz in 1963. Known as "The Myth," he was the prime force behind bossa nova, the music of Bahia. Although given to a lifestyle as relaxed as his music, his skill as a writer, singer and musician was impossible to ignore, hence his date with Getz and his continuing fame, both in Brazil and around the world.

Good news -- after spending countless hours with Bebel, I’m happy to report that she is one of the rare exceptions. Her voice, as seductive, gentle and as attuned to the spirit of the New Wave as her mother’s, is also more mature and expressive -- like her father’s. And her writing skill is almost as powerful as that of her father. On track after track she whispers, invites and seduces. Even on the most upbeat tune, "Bananeira," she never loses the gentle swing of bossa nova to the dance beat. And on "Samba e Amor," a vocal-and-acoustic-guitar tune, she positively steals your heart. In fact, the only slight missteps are when Gilberto steps out of her native Portuguese and takes a couple of tunes in English. She sings well, but the more guttural tones of English clash with the gentle flow of the bossa nova.

The recording, made in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brussels, and London, is well-done modern digital. The varied instrumentation, from electric dance bass, to solo guitar and flute, is nicely captured, while the vocals, like a dry fly in the hands of an expert angler, float gently on top of the recording.