I can still recall the first time I heard Rosa Passos. The song "Verão," from
her release Pano Pra Manga (1996), made an indelible mark in my mind. "Verão" has
kept its place as one of my favorite Rosa Passos and Fernando de
Oliveira's tunes. Since that time, Rosa Passos albums have been a
constant addition to my collection. Besides her releases in Brazil,
she has also recorded with Kenny Rankin (Here in My Heart, 1997)
and more recently with Yo-Yo Ma (Obrigado, Brazil).
Passos latest release is a collaboration with bassist Ron Carter.
The album, entitled Entre Amigos, is a collection of eleven
Brazilian classics in Passos' inimitable voice and style. Produced
Korman and David Chesky, Entre Amigos also features Lula
(guitar), Paulo Braga (percussion) and Billy Drewes (tenor sax and
clarinet). This Passos/Carter combination sounds like a match made
in heaven. Her intimate voice coupled with Carter's rich
bass creates a beautiful combination to please die-hard Passos fan
and, most certainly, the new fans she'll
gain with this album.
The opening track "Bahia com H" might take you back to
João Gilberto's 1981 Brasil album - Passos does not
hide her passion for him - but Passos arrangement picks up the tempo
a tad faster to catapult Entre Amigos to new heights right
from the start. Carter's bass accompaniment envelopes Passos voice
to play along with such ease that the listener will likely feel drawn
to the charms of these two remarkable performers. And the magic in
the first track is not short-lived. Over and over, these two artists
spare no surprises. Carter's solo in "Insensatez," for
example, is just as moving as Passos' soft spoken voice. Not detracting
for the overall atmosphere of the album and at the same time adding
a new dimension to it, Drewes' sax and clarinet solos are gorgeous.
In "Desafinado," his
solos are sometimes mirrored in Passos' voice. She sings some lines
in staccato fashion, imitating Drewes precise notes. He also shines
in "Eu Sei que Vou Te Amar" with an unusual and mesmerizing
The friendship shared in Entre Amigos is clearly shown
in each track. The album is charming and endearing with each musician's
balanced. Passos is one of the few singers I know who is capable
of recording a well-known song such as "Garota de Ipanema" and
make you want to hear it again. Entre Amigos will have that effect
on you, too.