Filó Machado is one of a new generation of Brasilian composers that has been flying under the radar in a substantial part of the world (though not in Brasil, where he is extremely well-known and respected) much to the detriment of the spread of that country’s music beyond conventional wisdom. The composer and instrumentalist, with an unique and inimitable singing style and who has compiled an enormous songbook, draws on his deep and colourful Afro-Brasilian heritage in much of his work and also has a breathtaking gift for writing memorable melodies, which is what the Brasilian vocalist Fernanda Cunha shines a light on in her short, but memorable album Canta Filó Machado.
The music of Filó Machado calls for performing challenges. His melodies leap and swirl often with tantalising melismatic ingenuity. This requires extreme virtuosity on the part of the vocalist. Miss Cunha is not only eminently suited to this kind of vocalastics, but negotiates Mr Machado’s music with consummate ease and grace. Her voice, at the sensuous mezzo often overlaps both the soprano and alto range of the feminine voice and she applies uncommon vocalastic skill to negotiate the lyric with great depth of emotion while conveying the narrative that the composer intends to convey. She is also exquisitely adept at negotiating the harmonic and rhythmic twists and turns in Mr Machado’s music and brings breathtaking dynamics to the softer parts of the music.
Along the way Miss Cunha has the benefit of the virtuoso expertise of some of the finest young Brasilian musicians. Strings player is on hand to provide exquisite accompaniment throughout and his performance (especially on “Pro Felipe”). Pianist Camilla Dias and bassist Berval Moraes are also completely attuned to the demands of this music, while percussion colourist Helbe Machado brings lyrical grace to the rhythmic content. The incomparable Canadian guitarist Reg Schwager brings his outstanding and articulate “diction” to “Carmens e Consuelos” as he soars with sustained tonal plenitude. His immaculate legato on the piece is one of the many pleasurable moments on this richly enjoyable disc by one of the glittering albeit relatively undiscovered stars of Brasilian music.
Track list – 1: Vale o Escrito; 2: Perfume de Cebola; 3: Rainha da Noite; 4: Carmens e Consuelos; 5: Pro Felipe; 6: Jogral; 7: Vice Versa; 8: Boca de Leão
Personnel – Fernanda Cunha: voice; Zé Carlos: violão, guitar and arrangements (1 – 3, 6, 8); Camilla Dias: piano; Helbe Machado: drums; Berval Moraes: bass; and featuring – Reg Schwager: guitar (4)
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 25:42