Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ivan Lins

Brazilian superstar Ivan Lins occupies a strange twilight zone when he travels to the United States.

While he's never attained the level of recognition enjoyed here by his illustrious countrymen Caetano Veloso , Milton Nascimento , and Gilberto Gil , his music is much more firmly entrenched. Beloved by jazz musicians and embraced by pop icons, Lins has somehow flown under the American pop cultural radar, despite the fact that over the past quarter century, no living Brazilian composer's music has been more widely heard or recorded in the United States.

Nothing better captures the nature of his crossover appeal than the 2000 Telarc album celebrating his music, "A Love Affair, " and a related Carnegie Hall extravaganza the same year that featured a disparate cast including Sting, Chaka Khan, Grover Washington Jr., Dianne Reeves, and Vanessa Williams. A riveting performer himself with a smoky tenor, pure falsetto, and strongly jazz-influenced keyboard style, Lins opens a two-night run at the Regattabar on Thursday with his working quartet, featuring percussionist Teo Lima , bassist Nema Antunes, and keyboardist Marco Brito .

"Gil and Caetano, they go much more on the pop side, and they can reach a larger number of regular people," says Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo , a frequent collaborator with Lins whose playing is featured throughout "A Love Affair."

"Ivan thinks about MPB," Lubambo continues, using the common initials for the stylistically diverse current of Brazilian pop music known as música popular brasileira . "But he composes with gorgeous harmonies and takes some different routes with chord sequences that you don't normally hear. The effect is incredible, and that makes it very suitable for jazz musicians."
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