Tania Maria ‘Canto’ (Naïve) 4/5

Brazilian pianist and singer-songwriter Tania Maria comes back with a real return to form on this latest album which harks back to her early days on Concord Picante and albums such as ‘Taurus’. In fact she reprises a few of her 1990s and beyond repertoire while the newer material is as strong as ever and the fruitful collaborative writing with Carlos Werneck that resulted in anthemic albums such as ‘Come with me’ is resumed. The trombone-led ‘Intimidade’ finds Tania Maria at her terrific best with piano vampo, funky bass and those unmistakable vocals to the fore. It was also the title track of a 2000+ Blue Note album. Likewise ‘Ça c’est bon’ is a fast-paced recent oldie that features some of those trademark vocals scats and one of the catchiest hooks on the planet.

Where the new material really impresses is on the added lyrics to instrumental pieces such as Sideny Bechet’s ‘Florzinha’ which is arguably the most compelling song on the entire album. In contrast the reflective title track demonstrates what a sophisticated ballad singer and pianist Tania Maria is capable of being. Recorded partly in Paris and partly in Sao Paulo, Tania Maria has returned to her roots with long-time bassist Marc Berteaux back with her, and in the process she has delivered an album that will stand the test of time, enthrall her existing fans and win her a few more devotees. Full marks for the evocative pre-Raphaelite-style front cover. Lyrics contained in the inner sleeve are in Portugese only. Tim Stenhouse