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The Washington Post Sunday - - Arts -

MO­MENTO Bebel Gil­berto Some

have pegged Bebel Gil­berto as the No­rah Jones of Brazil­ian pop, as a taste­ful pur­veyor of global mu­sic for the Star­bucks mar­ket. And while her third solo album might seem like a bid for the mid­dle of the road, split­ting the dif­fer­ence be­tween her elec­tronic de­but and its more acous­tic suc­ces­sor, ul­ti­mately the record stands as a tes­ta­ment to Gil­berto’s om­niv­o­rous mu­si­cal ap­petites and com­mand.

“Bring Back the Love,” for ex­am­ple, lay­ers samba rhythms over con­tem­po­rary dance beats. “Caçada,” a song first writ­ten and recorded by Gil­berto’s un­cle Chico Buar­que, is set to a tra­di­tional forró ar­range­ment, com­plete with the flutes, drums and steel-string gui­tars na­tive to north­east­ern Brazil. On “Night and Day” Gil­berto reimag­ines the Cole Porter stan­dard as a bossa-fla­vored reverie. Whether in Por­tuguese or English, nearly ev­ery song here feels like an in­stinc­tive ve­hi­cle for her sup­ple, lan­guorous phras­ing.

Gil­berto made “Mo­mento” in three dif­fer­ent cities with three dif­fer­ent sets of col­lab­o­ra­tors. In Lon­don she worked with pro­ducer Guy Sigsworth, who is per­haps best known for his con­tri­bu­tions to the record­ings of Bjork and Madonna. In Man­hat­tan she teamed up with eclec­tic New York dance-rock­ers the Brazil­ian Girls, and in Rio she worked with mem­bers of the neoBrazil­ian pop combo Forro in the Dark and, on the cha-cha-in­flected “Tran­quilo,” with the 19-mem­ber Orques­tra Im­pe­rial.

Stylis­ti­cally far-reach­ing yet ut­terly of a piece in spirit, Gil­berto’s record sounds like what she has taken to call­ing “Be­bel­mu­sic,” a sleek, sen­sual pulse that would sound at home on the streets of just about any city on the planet.

— Bill Friskics-War­ren DOWN­LOAD TH­ESE: “Caçada,” “Tran­quilo,” “Bring Back the Love” WE’LL NEVER TURN BACK Mavis Sta­ples At

this point, record­ing an album of free­dom songs might strike some as an ex­er­cise in nos­tal­gia, but for Mavis Sta­ples, one of the most stir­ring gospel and soul singers of all time, it couldn’t be time­lier — or more prophetic. Ou­traged by what she saw in New Or­leans af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, Sta­ples rein­vests the likes of “We Shall Not Be Moved” and “(Ain’t No­body Gonna) Turn Me Around” with the moral author­ity to speak to so­cial and eco­nomic in­jus­tices that per­sist to­day.

“Down in Mis­sis­sippi / brothers in jail, un­e­d­u­cated chil­dren / It’s the 21st cen­tury, it feels like it’s 1960,” she ad-libs in a sear­ing re­make of Dorothy Love Coates’s “Ninety-Nine and a Half.” Later, in “My Own Eyes,” tes­ti­fy­ing to how as a lit­tle girl she and her fa­ther and sib­lings were jailed by Jim Crow po­lice, she cries, “It’s been al­most 50 years / How much longer will it last? / We need a change now more than ever / Why are we still treated so bad?”

Sta­ples en­lists a cloud of kin­dred wit­nesses to join her in her cal­land-re­sponse, no­tably Lady­smith Black Mam­bazo and mem­bers of the orig­i­nal Free­dom Singers, all of whom have known op­pres­sion first­hand. Ry Cooder’s gut­bucket pro­duc­tion lends the mu­sic fur­ther bal­last. Of­ten con­sist­ing of no more than Cooder’s slide gui­tar and his son Joachim’s am­bi­ent per­cus­sion or drum loops, the ar­range­ments sound like 21st-cen­tury up­dates of the soul-folk that the Sta­ple Singers patented back in the 1960s. Rarely have “re­makes” sounded so tonic or in­spired.

— Bill Friskics-War­ren DOWN­LOAD TH­ESE: “Ninety-Nine and a Half,” “My Own Eyes”

BY PHILIPPE KLIOT

Bebel Gil­berto’s Brazil­ian pop cap­ti­vates lis­ten­ers wher­ever they might be.

Mavis Sta­ples’s so­cial jus­tice mes­sage is more res­o­nant than ever.

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