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Joyce Moreno & Joao Donato – Aquarius review

This sweet and touching release on Far Out acts both as a great introduction to a legend of Brazilian bossa nova and also as a retrospective at the same time. A huge solo star since the 60’s, Joyce’s voice has been indelibly linked to bossa nova music, as has the piano playing of Joao Donato who joins her here. With Far Out having released some of her more slept-on and wigged-out 70’s material (on the Visions Of A Dawn collection), this new album is a return to the soft and gentle styles that made her a household name in Brazil.

Backed up by her husband Tutty Moreno on drums, there’s a huge amount of warmth in these recordings. The call and response of opener No Funda Do Mar is enough to hook you in to the vibe, and also show the huge influence that this music had on the wider world of jazz fusion, from Rotary Connection right up to modern nu-jazzers like 4 Hero. The more syrupy, pared down songs like Donato’s classic Amazonas have a huge amount of charm while the familiar sway of Guarulhos Cha Cha Cha will have you shaking your hips involuntarily in no time at all.

There’s a cracking new version of her hit Feminina to savour, as well as some gorgeous duets on Xango E Da Bas and E Passa O Carrossel. As a companion to Visions Of A Dawn, this provides a perfect way to get the full scope of Joyce’s career and even on it’s own it provides an always appreciated burst of exceptional Brazilian bossa nova.

Review: Oliver Keens