Patty Ascher opens up Bossa, Jazz ‘n Samba by alerting us to the fact that spring is here. The Brazilian singer tells us that the season is coming in the aptly-titled “Springtime,” but the view out of my window betrays the sentiment. Nothing but bleak, boring grey. Bleh.
Even so, the way Ascher’s voice blends in with the array of instruments on the opening number is enough to crack at least some light through the curtain of clouds. Let Marco Pontes blurt out a piano solo and you’ll see what I mean.
The record allows Ascher to stretch out in front of a set of quality musicians, including Ronaldo Rayol (acoustic guitar), Roberto Menescal (guitar), Ubaldo Versolate (saxophone and flute), Eric Budney (bass), and Nahame Casseb (drums).
True, bossa nova is sensuous territory. True, Ascher navigates it with ease. She melts into the soft suppleness of tracks like “Saudade” and evokes a whole new seat of fiery emotions, creating her own lyrical weather pattern over the lush strings and cool percussion. Nothing is ever rushed and Ascher, expressing the longing the song suggests, takes her beautiful time with the phrasing.
The time she takes with the vocals is typical of her approach all over Bossa, Jazz ‘n Samba. Whether it’s the sass of “Girls Just Want to Kiss” or the the ballad, sung in Portuguese, of the gorgeous “Talvez,” Ascher always lets the song simmer. While some vocalists collide with their bandmates, she colludes with them to produce sexy, emotionally complex music.
“How Much I Care” is a piece of importance to Ascher. “I wrote this song when we went to see the famous comedian Jerry Lewis in Saginaw, Michigan,” she explains. “We travelled 15 hours non-stop just to be there, halfway through the world literally.” The experience was “pure magic” and Ascher recalls fondly the thrill of seeing her childhood idol in person. The song, a loving homage to the wonder of discovery, is fitting.
With cool sensuality and impeccable phrasing, Patty Ascher takes to Bossa, Jazz ‘n Samba with the ability of a vocal master. Her voice is deep and warm. Best of all, she doesn’t overtake the musical dynamic and delves in joyously as a member of the greater whole with the wealth of Brazil-based sidemen featured on the record.