Sep 12 2004

Rosa Passos: Amorosa

To João, With Love

AmorosaAn unabashed tribute to her idol João Gilberto, Amorosa is Rosa Passos’s latest work. Still hot on the trails of her successfully acclaimed 2003 collaboration with Ron Carter (Entre Amigos), Passos selected gems from the João Gilberto repertoire and added a special tribute with an original song dedicated to him, “Essa É Pr’o João.” As the song title says, this is to João.

Making music professionally since the 1960s, Passos (born in Salvador, Bahia, 1952) never tried to hide her affection and admiration for João Gilberto, the name synonymous with Bossa Nova in Brazil and the world. In 1978 she released her first album, Recriação, with original compositions co-written with long-time collaborator Fernando de Oliveira. From there on, her career catapulted to stardom with the release of several successful albums, such as Curare (1991), Festa (1993), Pano pra Manga (1996) as well as other works entirely dedicated to the works of Ary Barroso, Dorival Caymmi and Antônio Carlos Jobim. More recently, she worked with Ron Carter and Yo-Yo Ma reaching larger audiences outside of Brazil. Her impeccable taste to record the best in the Brazilian songbook is clearly evident in all albums she has released to date.

Rosa PassosProduced by Jorge Calandrelli, Amorosa features Helio Alves on piano, Paulo Paulelli on bass (Nilson Matta in “Chega de Saudade”), Paulo Braga on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion and, of course Rosa Passos on vocals and acoustic guitar. Passos also arranged all tracks except for “Que Reste-t-il de nos Amours” and “Chega de Saudade,” which were arranged by Calandrelli. Special guests featured in this album are Rodrigo Ursaia on tenor sax, Paquito D’Rivera on clarinet and Henri Salvador with vocals in “Que Reste-t-il de nos Amours.” The bonus track “Chega de Saudade” was taken from Yo-Yo Ma’s Obrigado Brazil (Sony Classical SK 89935, 2003).

Four out of the twelve tracks here were recorded by João Gilberto in his classic 1977 album Amoroso: “Wave,” “Bésame Mucho,” “Retrato em Branco e Preto” and “‘S Wonderful.” (Gilberto’s Amoroso is available in a 2-in-1 combo along with Brasil on Warner 9 45165-2.) Though strings are used in some of Passos’s renditions for the same songs, she did not attempt to repeat Claus Ogerman’s majestic arrangements. Instead, she opted for new arrangements, and they are just as beautiful. The other tracks were also recorded by Gilberto in several of his albums, with the exception of Passos and Medeiros’s original “Essa É Pr’o João,” her personal dedication to Gilberto. The song is a loving tribute full of images of João Gilberto, his music and Bossa Nova (see lyrics below).

To write about Passos renditions for all the songs in this album is an herculean task. She opens her heart in each track and sings from within her soul. The accompaniment is also superb note after note. Passos’s phrasing is unequalled. Sometimes she puts so much feeling in one syllable that the listener is not capable of holding back a sigh of amazement. Case in point: her rendition of “Retrato em Branco e Preto.” In the last verses of Buarque’s touching lyrics, Passos carries the pain of all lovers in a single word: “coração” (heart). Her enunciation for that word is powerful. The same goes for several other lines in the song, such as “lembranças do passado” (remembrances of the past) and more.

Of course, in many instances of the album, Passos is playful and pure happiness. “Pra Que Discutir com Madame,” “O Pato” and “Eu Sambo Mesmo” reflect the energy emanating in her grand small voice. The same goes for the non-Brazilian material presented here. “Bésame Mucho,” in all its quietness, is passionately ardent until the last breath. As for “‘S Wonderful,” Alves’s mellifluous piano accompaniment with subtle soaring strings is all but heavenly. Finally, the magnificent duet with Henri Salvador in “Que Rest-t-il de nos Amours” reaches a high not even attained by Gilberto’s own recording. Ronaldo Bastos’s Portuguese lyrics blend so beautifully with the original French words that you are likely to forget when one language is being sung instead of the other. Never has French and Portuguese sounded so beautifully together since Chico Buarque’s “Joana Francesa.”

Amorosa is proof that less is a whole lot more. Voice and lyrics take center stage. Instrumentation and arrangements highlight the beauty of the music. Everything else is superfluous.

To hear sample tracks and watch a short video from Amorosa, please visit Rosa Passos site on Sony Classical.


Essa É Pr’o João 
(Rosa Passos – Arnoldo Medeiros)

Ouvindo atentamente na vitrola
Seu jeito encantado de cantar
Eu tento resistir aos seus acordes
Mas só consigo me apaixonar e confessar
De tudo que meu coração precisa
Fundamental é mesmo um violão
O som inesquecível da batida
Em um samba harmonizado por João
Por João
E nesse nunca chega de saudade
A sua inconfundível divisão
É toda infinita poesia
Que faz da melodia uma ilusão
João Gilberto, amigo, eu só queria
Lhe agradecer pela lição
Desses seus acordes dissonantes
Desse seu cantar com perfeição
E até o apagar da velha chama
Eu quero sempre ouvir o mesmo som
Só privilegiados tem ouvidos
Mas muito poucos deles tem seu dom
Seu dom, que bom

This is for João

Listening carefully on the turntable
His enchanting way of singing
I tried to resists his chords
But I can only fall in love and confess
Everything my heart needs
An acoustic guitar is really fundamental
The unforgettable sound of the beat
In a samba harmonized by João
By João
And in this no more blues
His incomparable phrasing
Is all infinite poetry
And it turns the melody into an illusion
João Gilberto, friend, I just wanted
To thank you for the lesson
Of your dissonant chords
Of your perfect singing
And until the final flicker
I only want to hear the same sound always
Only the privileged have ears
But just a few have your gift
Your gift, how nice



Rosa Passos

Rosa Passos
Sony Classical SK 92068 (2004)
Time: 51’22”


  1. Você Vai Ver (Antônio Carlos Jobim)
  2. Wave (Antônio Carlos Jobim)
  3. Bésame Mucho (Consuelo Velasquez)
  4. Pra que Discutir com Madame (Janet de Almeida – Haroldo Barbosa)
  5. Lobo Bobo (Carlos Lyra – Ronaldo Bôscoli)
  6. O Pato (Jayme Silva – Neuza Teixeira)
  7. Retrato em Branco e Preto (Antônio Carlos Jobim – Chico Buarque)
  8. Eu Sambo Mesmo (Janet de Almeida)
  9. Essa É Pr’o João (Rosa Passos – Arnoldo Medeiros)
  10. Que Reste-t-il de nos Amours (Charles Trenet – Portuguese lyrics by Ronaldo Bastos) – w/ Henri Salvador
  11. ‘S Wonderful (George Gershwin – Ira Gershwin)
  12. Chega de Saudade (Antônio Carlos Jobim) – w/ Yo-Yo Ma