Bebel Gilberto :: Tanto Tempo
Bebel Gilberto first came to my attention in 1996 as one of the artists featured in the Red Hot crew's 9th compilation, Red Hot + Rio, a tribute to the pervasive beauty and influence of Brazilian pop music, from Bossa Nova through Tropicalismo. Overshadowed by several other stunning performances and collaborations on the album, I never gave her much thought, as the track she sang on was a home recording done in 1986.
Fast forward to the year 2000 and I'm reading Tower Records' Pulse magazine in the world music section coming across a review for Tanto Tempo by one Bebel Gilberto... Why's that name sound familiar? "Blah, blah, blah... new interpretations of bossa nova ...blah, blah, blah... daughter of Joao Gilberto..." Hold on, daughter of WHO!?! No shit?! Being a huge fan the works of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto's, THE seminal figures of the Bossa Nova movement in the 60's, I figured the gal might be worth checking out. And boy was she!
Released on the then fledgling Six Degree Records, "Tanto Tempo" is a wonderful reminder of the inherent simplicity yet richness of Brazil's Bossa Nova, in this case reinterpreted for the new millenium. What's immediately striking about the album is the fantastic production by the late great Suba. The music permeates your speakers before you even have a chance to adjust the volume. Numerous adjectives can be used to describe this debut including: subdued, unobtrusive, stylish, restrained, sleepy, subtle, breathy, lovely, frothy, mellow, gentle...but they all seem to complement each other. And what is welcomingly apparent is Bebel's nod to her father and stepmother, Astrud Gilberto, to whom she bears a slighty huskier resemblance, while carrying the torch ahead into newer territory.
Sensual and entrancing throughout, Bebel seduces on the intro "Samba da Bencao," "August Day Song," and "Tanto Tempo"; teases on "Sem Contencao"; saunters on "Alguem"; paints on "So Nice"; yearns on the Thievery Corporation produced "Lonely"; dances on the playfully penned "Bananeira" by Gilberto Gil; and invites you to party and sway to the Carnival grooves of "Close Your Eyes." Whether paired with a single acoustic guitar, lush orchestration & horns, or dance floor beats, she shines throughout.
I got to see her in June 2001, and she's an enthusiastic performer, simultaneously undulating and bopping across the stage like a spritely nymph whose had too much catnip, inviting her audience to clap and swing along. A pleasure for the ears and very easy on the eyes! I dare you not to fall in love with her, cause I know I have...