Celso Fonseca (Rio de Janeiro, 1956) might be a new name outside of Brazil. However, since his and Ronaldo Bastos’s Latin Grammy nominated 2002 album Juventude/Slow Motion Bossa Nova hit the foreign market, Fonseca’s career has been on the rise internationally. That album was followed in 2003 by well received and critically acclaimed Natural.
Fonseca began his musical career in 1981 paying with sax player Roberto Guima. He also played in trumpeter Marcio Montarroyos’s and singer/songwriter Gilberto Gil’s bands before playing with other household names, such as Djavan, Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa and even Carlos Santana. Taking part in jazz music festivals (JVC, Montreal and Montreux festivals) was just another natural step in Fonseca’s rising career. In addition to being an accomplished musician, Fonseca also found time to produce hit albums for Daniela Mercury, Virginia Rodrigues, Daúde, Leo Gandelman and several other artists.
Though in Brazil he has had a few other albums, Rive Gauche Rio is Fonseca’s third international release. Repeating the formula from his two previous albums — swinging and soothing melodies and arrangements — Fonseca will please his fans and will likely gain a few new ones. Of course it helps to have such a voice and to command his guitar beautifully! Fonseca produced and arranged all tracks in this release, and his band members included Luiz Alves (acoustic bass), Alexandre Fonseca (drums), Ramiro Musotto and Armando Marçal (percussion), Marcelo Martins (flutes and tenor sax), Walter Costa (programming), Arthur Maia and Dunga (bass), Jorjão Barreto (fender rhodes), Dudú Trentin (keyobard) and Jessé Sadoc (flugelhorn). Fonseca also shares vocals and a guitar duet with 2005 Academy Award winner Jorge Drexler in the gorgeous song “Don de Fluir.”
Opening Rive Gauche Rio we have “O Rio Para Trás.” In the first 30 seconds, all we have is Fonseca’s voice. Then Alves’s bass enter and brings a deep sound to this dazzling tune. The additional vocals created by Fonseca in this arrangement create an aura of mysticism that works very well. As a listener, you will be drawn closer to the album right in the first minute. The song is like Tom Jobim’s “Samba do Avião,” except that in Fonseca’s case, the plane is leaving Rio and the lyrics deal more with the end of an affair. Nevertheless, this song is quite impressive, especially because of the calming vocals and fine bass. In “Feriado,” Martins’s flute solo is featured nicely in this swinging bossa. Also featured in that track is Barreto’s serene fender rhodes. He returns in the next track, “Perdi,” an maintains the same charisma there as well as in other songs, such as “Bela.” The relaxed duet in “Don de Fluir” is pure pleasure. Right at the introduction you can hear both Fonseca and Drexler expressing their joy in singing together. The refrain “solo quiero verte bailar” will stay with you and really make you feel like dancing. Fonseca’s and Drexler’s voices are luscious together. Not forgetting the accomplished musician he is, Fonseca showcases his guitar skills in “Atlântico,” an instrumental solo that also features Musotto’s cadenced percussion. If more intimacy is what you’re looking for — as if all these gorgeous tracks haven’t already provided it — then brace yourself to “My Broken Heart.” Curl up and enjoy Fonseca’s voice and guitar alone in that love song. And to close this remarkable release, Ronaldo Bastos’s Portuguese version to Henri Salvador’s “J’ai Vu” hits the jackpot adding Martins’s tenor sax to Fonseca’s mellow voice. Rive Gauche Rio is impressive and will certainly please listeners who enjoy soft voices, gentle guitars and memorable melodies.
Rive Gauche Rio
Six Degrees Records 657036 1113-2 (2005)
All songs by Celso Fonseca except where noted.
- O Rio Para Trás
- Por Acaso, Pela Tarde
- Feriado (Celso Fonseca – Ronaldo Bastos)
- Delicate (Damien Rice)
- Um Mundo Estranho (Celso Fonseca – Ronaldo Bastos)
- Don de Fluir (Jorge Drexler) – w/ Jorge Drexler
- My Broken Heart (Celso Fonseca – Ronaldo Bastos)
- Na Pele de um Flaneur (Henri Salvador – M. Modo; Portuguese lyrics by Ronaldo Bastos)