Don't think there is a power failure when you suddenly find yourself sitting in pitch darkness inside the theater. This just happens to be the beginning of Universo Particular, the heavily produced show that Brazilian-born Marisa Monte in her first U.S. tour in five years organized to promote her two new albums, the semiexperimentalist Infinito Particular (Private Infinite) and the samba-heavy Universo ao Meu Redor (Universe Around Me), both released on the Blue Note label.
As she begins the opening number, sparse lights flash, which reveal the singer seated with her mandolin as she plays and sings. Once the stage is fully visible, Monte and her band perform the daunting task of blending the music from two very disparate albums into one cohesive set.
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Die-hard Monte fans must be forewarned that this show is not intended to be a greatest-hits concert. The focus is mostly on new material, although she does play a couple of tunes from earlier albums such as Rose and Charcoal, Mais, and Tribalistas, the last of which she shared the spotlight with Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown, both of whom co-wrote many of the songs on the new discs. The older songs, however, have been completely revamped to fit Universo Particular's format, so don't be surprised if there are few opportunities for a sing-along session. Ernest Barteldes