Clara Moreno ‘Miss Balanco’ (Far Out) 4/5

clara-morenoCarioca (native of Rio) singer Clara Moreno has quietly established a reputation for excellence over six albums and this second for Far Out is by far the most accomplished thus far. It certainly helps that productions chores are taken care of by mother Joyce and arrangements by father, drummer Tutti Moreno. However, Clara Moreno is very much her own singer and is certainly not trading on her mother’s reputation. The song selection is a judicious one that harks back to the classic samba era and follows the recent trend of artists such as Orchestra Imperial and Marisa Monte in updating this timeless sound. Opening proceedings is the big band samba of ‘Deixa a negra gingar’. This was the same song that a young Flora Purim sung to great effect with Duke Pearson for Blue Note and Moreno’s delivery is flawless. Another favourite is ‘Bebete’, originally a mid-nineteen-seventies tune performed by Djavan, but best known in the UK for the mid-nineteen-eighties version by American-based group Tudo Joia. Guesting on piano, legend Joao Donato solos on the ivories on the groove-laden ‘Que besteira’ while a more reflective side to the singer is found on ‘Uala Ualalala’. The jazzy sensibility of ‘Vai deuagarinho’ hints at the early Tania Maria and it is only really on ‘Mestico’ with its guitar riffs and subtle keyboards that one is reminded of her mother Joyce. Seminal 60s vocalist Orlandivo shares singing duties on ‘Temanco do samba’ and the album ends on a high with the flute driven ‘Samba de negro’. A fine, well-rounded album that points at a number of musical avenues for Clara Moreno to exploit in what promises to be a lengthy and highly successful career.

Tim Stenhouse