By David Rolland
By David Von Bader
By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
Bebel Gilberto fans know better than to expect the sort of bossa nova plied by her father, Brazilian guitarist and singer João Gilberto. Although there is a clear bossa influence in her style, the younger Gilberto has gone beyond it, pushing the boundaries of Brazilian music to suit her own needs.
Her 2000 debut, Tanto Tempo, was grounded in the music of Brazil. The covers of the Bossa standards "So Nice" and "Samba da Bênçao" were particularly infectious, and have remained on her live set list ever since. But her 2005 self-titled Grammy-nominated release was a more personal statement. It took her jazzy, Latin rhythms in a more electronic direction, albeit with instruments such as acoustic guitars and woodwind instruments on several tracks. A remix edition of the album soon followed, and assorted tracks have since repeatedly appeared on several dance/world compilations.
On her third release, Momento (Six Degrees), she seems to have established her style, continuing her quest to find just the right balance between alternative pop, jazz, and her own Brazilian roots. In "Os Novos Yorkinos" ("The New Yorkers"), she shares the spotlight with Brazilian Girls in an ode to her part-time residence (she also has homes in Rio de Janeiro and London) that is filled with Northeastern Brazilian percussive elements; "Tranquilo" ("Calm") offers a clear nod to her love for mambo. The first single, "Bring Back The Love" has a fun samba backbeat (a remix EP is available on iTunes), and her cover of her uncle Chico Buarque's "Caçada" (The Hunt) is a refreshing take on forró, the Brazilian folk-dance beat that has become popular in the dance clubs of America.
Gilberto usually opens her live sets in a more subdued mood, then picks up the pace as the show progresses. She also embraces the arrangements used on the various remixes of her original tunes. By the end of her set, fans are usually on their feet. They might not always understand the lyrics, but the rhythms translate just fine.