Within bossa nova’s relatively short history (of which I am clearly not an expert) starting with Antonio Carlos Jobim and extended by João Gilberto in the 50s and 60s, the single most penetrating voice was not even a professional singer in João’s wife, Astrud Gilberto.
Astrud was apparently just hanging around the studio as they decided to play around with her on vocals – and it became the defining voice of the beautiful Brasilian movement. There was something very appealing about her unpolished yet feminine and emotional voice storytelling ….
Fast forward to the more modern time in music, when jazz is certainly not dead but not quite enjoying a high level of popular support (save Norah Jones circa 2002). The practitioners of bossa nova are now relegated to jazz aficionados and small gigs if welcomed at all, passed off in our ADD culture as being too slow, possibly. But Rosa Passos gives fans of the lost art something to hold onto, as evidenced by her latest effort, Amorosa.
The album showcases what fans of Yo-Yo Ma may have already discovered. My favorite Rosa song to date is, in fact, her track called “Chega de Saudade” with Yo-Yo Ma from Obrigado Brasil. It can also be found on Amorosa along with touching renditions of “Besame Mucho” and “S’Wonderful,” tracks that I personally associate with another female songbird called Diana Krall. (Krall did both songs on The Look of Love, with her own personal touch on them that is quite nice.) You can’t really go wrong with coupling a naturally beautiful voice, great standards, along with the arguably most fluid, most aesthetically pleasing language still spoken – Brasilian Portuguese.
Amorosa is also filled with an entire tracklisting of wonderful songs that are well worth listening to. In them, Rosa reveals the sensual quality of bossa nova that was feared to have faded along with Astrud.