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BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE) Miami 2003 - Rose Max

Speaking of love, it's hard not to amour Rose Max when she sings, for example, "Speaking of Love" ("Falando de Amor") or any of those Brazilian jazz standards that make us so happy we could cry. One night she woos you with her bossa nova and samba amid the couches and candlelight of the Van Dyke Café's dreamy upstairs room. On another her renditions of Seventies pop songs in the cheesy bar at Porçao get you and your sisters cluster-dancing, arm-waving, and singing along. Husband Ramatis Morães provides Max's lush bed of guitar chords. Whatever the venue, everybody is in seventh heaven; that is, major-seventh and minor-seventh, those magical chords that can at once relax, energize, sadden, and enrapture, as master Brazilian songwriters Antonio Carlos Jobim, Newton Mendonça, and others discovered. Max, a native of Rio de Janeiro, was practically singing before she was born. Her great-grandfather was conductor/composer Cupertino de Menezes and her grandfather guitar player/composer Manuel de Menezes. She moved to Miami in 1993 and a decade later she gives her sultriest seminars at the Van Dyke, where she and Morães play with a full drum-bass-piano rhythm section. She appeared out of nowhere, as goes the Toni Bellotto and Nando Reis classic "Pra Dizer Adeus" ("To Say Goodbye"), which she delivers on her recently released first CD. "You never saw me alone, you never heard me cry," it continues. "You make it hard to imagine whether it's too early or too late to say goodbye." It is always both once Max has begun to sing.

Readers Choice: Melody Cole

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