Aug 09 2009

Zélia Duncan: Pelo Sabor do Gesto

Continuing Her Journey


Pelo Sabor do Gesto

The career of singer Zélia Duncan (1964, Niterói) is like a long journey which started somewhere in the early 1980s. Once in a while Zélia goes on a side trip to do some sightseeing. She went out to do a little samba and choro (Eu Me Transformo em Outras, 2004), she visited the museum of Tropicália (touring with Os Mutantes, Ao Vivo, 2006) and she had a ball with colleague singer Simone (Amigo É Casa, 2008). But now Zélia is back on track again, continuing her journey. With Pelo Sabor do Gesto she continues on the road that she left with Pré-Pós-Tudo-Bossa-Band (2005). It’s a pleasure to hear Zélia expressing herself again in her own unique and honest way, surrounded by well chosen musicians who give the music that little something extra.

There’s a hint that the chosen sentiment for this CD was also inspired by the music from the French movie “Les Chansons d’Amour.” The soundtrack album with bitter sweet love songs by Alex Beaupain (1974) is convenient in Zélia’s vicinity on the accompanying picture. She chose two songs from that album and provided them with Portuguese translations. The first one we hear is the opening “De Bonnes Raisons” which is translated into “Boas Razões.” With the same hunting rhythm this interpretation stays close to the original; however, the accordion (Marcelo Jeneci) adds an extra Parisian accent. It proves to be a very attractive opener for the CD, with a cute participation by Fernanda Takai, singer/guitarist from the pop band Pato Fu. It’s another member of that same band who surprisingly plays a big role in the sound of part of the album, multi-instrumentalist and producer João Daniel “John” Ulhoa (Paracatu, 1966). On various instruments he’s able to give the music a somewhat friendlier touch. John brought his own musicians to complete the accompaniment. Thiango Braga is on the acoustic and electric basses and Mariá Portugal on drums and percussion. This trio also accompanies the second song from “Chansons d’Amour,” which has been promoted to title song “Pelo Sabor do Gesto” (original title: “As-tu déjà aimé?”). This rendition got a beautiful ballad arrangement that sounds much more sentimental than the original version. John Ulhoa does a great job, too, with “Telhados de Paris.” Zelia DuncanHe supports Zélia’s characteristic vocals in the best possible way with a variety of instrumental sentiments from pop music. Rita Lee’s “Ambição” sounds like a good rock song with the electric guitar impressively referring to the likes of Rita Lee.

The instrumentation is democratically shared between the leadership of John Ulhoa and Beto Villares. Beto Villares already worked with Zélia Duncan on her studio recording of Sortimento. More recently he shaped the sounds on Paula Morelenbaum’s two most recent albums. On “Duas Namoradas,” Zélia’s regular homage to the work of Itamar Assumpção, the music sounds very eccentric. Strange colours are strongly supported by the deep sound of the six stringed acoustic bass (guitarron; best known from its presence in Mexican Mariachi groups); all performed by Beto Villares. He also provides “Sinto Encanto” with a colourful instrumentation that fits Zélia’s vocal capabilities very well. The secret of Zélia’s voice is maybe that it feels comfortable under all circumstances, thus leaving more room for instrumentalists to do things that normally would cause distraction. But with Zélia they’ll always be nothing more than the accompanying factor. Singer Chico César appears as special guest on the funky “Esporte Fino Confortável.” Unfortunately, to me this song sounds a bit messy. It’s the odd duck in another fantastic album from Zélia Duncan. It’s not only the music; also the accompanying booklet is original and attractive. Beside the usual lyrics and credits the booklet also features beautiful drawings by Brígida Balter, a visual artist from Rio de Janeiro.

Everything is all right about Pelo Sabor do Gesto, an album that shines from all sides. We can only hope Zélia Duncan continues her journey in the same direction.



Zélia Duncan 
Pelo Sabor do Gesto 
Mercury Universal Music 60252706103 (2009)
Time: 46’27”


  1. Boas Razões (De Bonnes Raisons) (Alex Beaupain – translation Zélia Duncan)
  2. Todos os Verbos (Marcelo Jeneci – Zélia Duncan)
  3. Telhados de Paris (Nei Lisboa)
  4. Tudo Sobre Você (John Ulhoa – Zélia Duncan)
  5. Sinto Encanto (Moska – Zélia Duncan)
  6. Pelo Sabor do Gesto (As-tu déjà aimé?) – (Alex Beaupain -translation Zélia Duncan)
  7. Ambição (Rita Lee)
  8. Esporte Fino Confortável (Chico César – Zélia Duncan)
  9. Os Dentes Brancos do Mundo (Marcos Valle – Paulo Sérgio Valle)
  10. Se Eu Fosse (Dante Ozzetti – Zélia Duncan)
  11. Aberto (Edu Tedeschi – Zélia Duncan)
  12. Se Um Dia Me Quiseres (Zélia Duncan – Zeca Baleiro)
  13. Duas Namoradas (Itamar Assumpção – Alice Ruiz)
  14. Nem Tudo (Edu Tedeschi – Zélia Duncan)