Sabrina Malheiros New Morning: Deluxe Edition Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Jazz/funk with a Latin flavour – like the best from Al Di Meola and Johnny Hammond.

Lloyd Bradley 2009

Sabrina Malheiros is the daughter of Alex Malheiros, bass player in legendary Brazilian jazz/funk trio Azymuth, and she was clearly paying attention while she was growing up.

This is a remastered, repackaged and, on half a dozen tracks, reworked version of an album that first came out in summer 2008, and the new approach ups the instrumental ante. Although for a vocalist this might seem a slightly reckless move, it was clearly a smart thing to do, as by allowing the players to show off a bit more the album hits a fabulous balance. The intricate, interlaced rhythms now combine with virtuoso musicianship to allow Malheiros’s honey-dripping singing to work as part of the whole, instead of merely riding on top of it.

Most spectacular are the two tracks arranged by the Italian guitarist / DJ / producer Nicola Conte: the title track and the opener, Brisa Mar. The former layers rhythms with such skill they appear feather light, yet still drive the song with a strength and urgency that effortlessly supports the sax breaks and minimalist vocals. The latter is the most straight-up samba in the set, yet keeps things modern with subtle touches and sounds. There’s also an instrumental version of Brisa Mar, which pulls out a surprisingly muscular big band groove.

Connexão gets a trance makeover to become a deeply compelling groove, Sintonia is now a sinewy funk instrumental and Ginga de Amor, which was previously unreleased, is bottom heavy, rhythmically complex and surprises the listener at every turn; it also showcases Malheiros’s gorgeous vocal technique. The highlight is the 20-minute-long IG Culture remix of Eira Nem Biera, which fuses London sensibility with Brazilian magic into a broken-beat bossa nova suite (surely the first time those words have appeared next to each other).

Sabrina Malheiros’s music has been called ‘Bossa Neuvo’ and ‘Samba Soul’, but really it’s jazz/funk with a strong Latin flavour – much like the best from the likes of Al Di Meola, Johnny Hammond and Lonnie Liston Smith, back before the genre became a byword for white socks and windscreen strips and no more did we speak its name. Dad must be very proud.

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