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You don’t need to speak Portuguese or know anything about samba to fully appreciate Anna Borges’ and Bill Ward’s efforts on Receita De Samba, a bossa nova record that’s as calming to listen to as the sound of waves lapping along Caribbean shorelines.
Bossa nova is a Brazilian music style that fuses samba with jazz, probably made most famous by Antônio Carlos Jobim’s worldwide hit, ”The Girl From Ipanema”. The title, Receita De Samba, translates to “Recipe For Samba” which accurately describes Borges’ and Ward’s choice of the classic tunes on this CD that have come to define the bossa nova genre. Therefore, it’s a great introduction to this style of music for those who’ve never heard it before, and a nostalgic journey for fans who are captivated by it.
The Boston-based husband and wife team deliver a great performance on this album using the less-is-more technique. Their simple arrangements allow the focus to remain on the music with its subtle, though intricate nuances. Borges and Ward take turns with the vocals, switching off on every song, but no matter which of the two is singing, their gentle phrasing and soothing voices do not overpower the tracks. Both also exercise remarkable control in their vocals. Their hypnotizing runs are pure, never forced, and everything simply flows. Borges has a slight edge as the only native Portuguese speaker, but Ward does an excellent job holding his own with his deep timbre.
With its soothing beats and lulling riffs, this is definitely a no-skip album, but highlights include the teasing and upbeat “O Vendedor De Caranguejo”; “Conselhos,” which pays tribute to the great Choro legend Waldir Azevedo; and “Curare,” an intimate ballad that brings the CD full circle.
Receita De Samba not only offers listeners an authentic taste of the bossa nova style, but Borges and Ward capture the magic of Brazil for us to uncork whenever we’re so inclined…