may 2012

tania maria
Tania Maria: another triumph in a career of triumphs stretching back more than forty years…

Another Triumph

By David McGee

tania maria tempoTEMPO
Tania Maria

It’s been almost five years since we’ve heard new music from the formidable Brazilian vocalist/pianist Tania Maria, but the subdued elegance of Tempo makes those years fall away and reminds us what an invaluable voice she is on the contemporary music scene. Recorded with only former Bill Evans bassist Eddie Gomez supporting her piano, Ms. Maria’s Tempo is replete with shifting, playful rhythms (such as those dotting the whimsical “Dear Dee Vee” (which appeared in a full band arrangement on the artist’s Outrageous album) to create a herky-jerky, unpredictable pattern to which she adds various vocal embroidery as Gomez gets frisky on the bass) along with high spirits and reflective discourses. When she works in this stripped down mode, Ms. Maria conjures memories of the late, great Vince Guaraldi, both in the Latin rooted repertoire and in her relationship to her instrument.

Tania Maria, ‘Besame Mucho,’ live at Jarasum International Jazz Festival 2010, with Marc Bertaux on guitar, Hubert Colou on drums.

Typically, the artist chooses her moments when to stick the dagger into your heart and when to shrug off a slight. “Sentado A Beira Do Caminho” (“Sitting On the Edge of the Road”), one of the classic tunes in her repertoire here, is a samba describing the singer’s slow awakening to her love affair collapsing, but Ms. Maria takes the story at a lively pace, even to the point of whistling while making an excursion into the far reaches of the keyboard’s right side, and she scats a few bits here and there (sounding for all the world like Melanie Gardot—or should that be the other way around?). It’s only love, after all. On the other hand, Bruno Martino’s “Estate,” which leads off the album, is a somber, introspective broken hearted discourse in which a failed romance is likened, painfully so, to joys of summer that only remind the singer of what she’s lost—“Summer/You are as a hot as the kisses that I have lost…,” “Summer/the sun that warmed us every day/that painted beautiful sunsets/now only burns with fury…,” “Summer/that gave its perfume to every flower/the summer that created our love/to let me now die of pain…”—and you feel the burden of these memories in Ms. Maria’s heavy, subdued contralto voice, and in the intensity of those same memories in her aggressive, percussive attack on the keys as Gomez rumbles sullenly behind her.

Two Maria originals, “Senso Unico” (“Common Sense Only”) and “Tempo,” the former clocking in at seven-and-a-half minutes, the latter at eight-and-a-half, are delightful, mostly instrumental compositions (“Tempo” has a smattering of lyrics), lighthearted and buoyant, marked by a common, easygoing feel and smart piano and bass harmonization and interplay, now darting across the soundscape, now gliding along blissfully as themes develop, diverge and then return to their original incarnation. A dazzling display, this Tempo long player, yet another of the many triumphs Tania Maria has experienced in a career stretching back more than forty years.

Tania Maria’s Tempo is available at

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