So Many Stars (Blue in Green Productions)
By Brian Arsenault
I think my biggest miss of 2013 may have been not hearing Teka’s marvelous bossa nova infused album So Many Stars. If you missed it too, here’s another chance. Especially for those of us in northern climes in this cold, cold endless winter.
Bossa nova almost always warms with its calls to romance and dance. In a harsh world it shows that the finer tender emotions are still possible. So there really is some place other than LA it’s warm this March. Really. And it may be the heart.
Good example, Teka and her teen daughter Luana Psaros provide two slightly different shades of sunlight on water in Aguas de Marco (Waters of March). Luana sounds like a younger skylark, not a lesser one, on this achingly alluring duet.
The album’s title song is also its message. So many stars, so many dreams. Taken as a whole, the album is rather dreamlike and it is a sweet dream.
For one reason, a different band member is featured in combination with Teka’s voice on nearly every song:
Randy Tico’s bass on “So Many Stars,” Doug Webb’s sax on “You Stepped Out of Dream” and “April Child”, Ruben Martinez bass flute on “April Child,” Ian Bernard’s piano on “Skylark.” More. All first rate.
Teka is a fine guitarist in her own right as amply demonstrated on “Bluesette.”
“Skylark” is one of the highlights of the album and one of the few non-bossa nova styled songs. Rather it is a wonderful slow jazz arrangement of the great Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael tune.
The Gershwin’s “S’Wonderful” closes the album with Teka teaming again with Luana for a light hearted take. Smiles all around. Chuckles at the end. For most of the time, though, we are in the world of Mendes and Jobim and, as noted, it is a warm world of dancing in the dark and counting stars.
Teka has a summer evening breeze quality to her voice always. She is as smoooooooooooth as bossa nova can be and that is very smooth indeed.
Surprises on the album? Maybe one. Her choice to include Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low,” lyrics by Ogden Nash. The central lyric of the song, though, fits the mold: “Speak low when you speak of love” for fear it might disappear.
There is a longing in bossa nova as well as a sweetness. Teka sings in both English and Portuguese on the album but it is the Portuguese that best brings us the poetry of the music. Even if you don’t speak the language.
The pacing is where American audiences have their biggest problem. Bossa nova after a burst of popularity in the States in the 60s has been largely relegated to secondary status except among aficionados and Brazilian and other Latin communities.
Part of its charm is a pace that is never fast, never hurried and Norteamericanos sometimes need things hot and fast, not warm and romantic.
Still, we are open to “so many dreams,” aren’t we?
Teka and her New Bossa Trio perform at The Gardenia in Hollywood on Wednesday Ap[ril 30. The Gardenia is at 7066 Santa Monica Blvd. The phone number is (323) 467-7444.
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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.