Brazil - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 27 - 01/02/99
Astronauta - Songs of Elis
January 19, 1982, is a day many will always remember in Brazil. On
that day, Elis Regina, arguably the greatest performer ever in
Brazilian music, passed away. For years after her death, on that
date, TV stations, newspapers, and radio shows continued to pay
tribute to that unforgettable voice and tempestuous personality.
Affectionately known as "Furacão" (Hurricane) or "Pimentinha"
(Little Pepper), Elis Regina established herself singing some of the
best in the Brazilian songbook at the same time that she was
introducing new names to her audiences. Milton Nascimento, Belchior,
and João Bosco and Aldir Blanc were just some of those names.
Her 1979 release on WEA, Elis, Essa Mulher (Elis, That Woman),
was named after the song Essa Mulher, which was composed by a
strong force in Brazilian contemporary music. Up to that point, the
composer of Essa Mulher had somewhat remained hidden from the
general public. Her name was Joyce, and Elis Regina was the first
major Brazilian star to record one of her songs. Now, almost 20 years
later, Joyce thanks Elis with Astronauta - Songs of Elis.
Astronauta - Songs of Elis presents a brief overview of
Elis Regina's career. With Joyce's incomparable voice, those songs
gained new life. Joyce did not attempt to copy Elis Regina's style.
Instead, Joyce re-created the songs with flair and class. The
emphasis on the songs is enhanced by the exceptional accompaniment
Joyce chose. Besides her own guitar playing, Joyce is sided with
top-notch jazz musicians: Joe Lovano's sax tenor, Rodolfo Stroeter's
bass, Tutti Moreno's drums, and Guello's percussion. At times,
Mulgrew Miller or Renee Rosnes adds piano accompaniment and a strong
jazz influence to these Brazilian classic songs. Two other superb
musicians complete this master ensemble: Dori Caymmi and Romero
Lubambo. Dori Caymmi, in addition to playing acoustic guitar, also
contributes with vocals. His participation singing a duet with Joyce
in the closing track, Waters of March (by Antonio Carlos
Jobim), is particularly amazing. In the opening verses, Dori Caymmi's
voice is strikingly reminiscent of Antonio Carlos Jobim's own
Astronauta opens with Joyce's own composition Samba Pra
Elis (Samba for Elis). That song serves as an overture and
dedication to this masterfully crafted CD. The song talks about what
Elis Regina meant to Brazilian music and Brazilians in general. She
was a light, she was a volcano, she was a woman in love with music.
Joyce's simple lyrics paint a perfect picture of that woman who
redefined Brazilian standards in singing. Joyce captures the essence
of Elis Regina in song.
To isolate one particular song as better than the others would be
an impossible task. Every note in Astronauta carries the
weight of a lifetime. Joyce's dedication to presenting these songs
perfectly is evident in each track. Whether in the introspective
performances of Essa Mulher (That Woman), O Cantador
(The Singer), and Morro Velho (Old Hill) or the vibrant
rediscovery in Aquarela do Brasil (Brazil Watercolor, a.k.a.
Brazil) or Folhas Secas (Dry Leaves), Joyce is magnificent.
The use of Milton Nascimento's own Vera Cruz as an
introduction to Aquarela do Brasil creates a musical circle
that only a master performer such as Joyce could endeavor to
The title track, Astronauta (Samba da Pergunta) (The
Question Samba) is yet another way of defining Elis Regina. She could
fly high like a kite or a bird. She was the morning star in Brazilian
music. She was the star that shone bright and left too early. Now,
thanks to Joyce's timely tribute, Elis Regina reappears and takes her
place in our memory. A stellar performer, Joyce is enchanting and
Copyright © 1999 Egídio Leitão