The exotic, one of a kind Brazilian guitarist, singer, and rhythmic mouth and body percussionist has had a stop-and-start career with turns as mysterious and intriguing as her music. After splashing on the scene with her Chesky debut Solo in 1994, continuing the stir (including vast critical acclaim) with Rhythms (1995) and releasing Chameleon on Verve in 1997, Badi Assad suffered from a series of personal issues that drew her back home for a few years. Fans who were excited about her 2003 re-emergence on the trio date Three Guitars with Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie will be beside themselves with the long-awaited Verde, her first solo project in six years. Those expecting a typical Brazilian vocal album ΓÇö she explains the title as "the shades of the Brazilian rain forest" ΓÇö will be surprised by Assad's versatility, which incorporates rhythmic textures from around the world. She opens with the very African-flavored voice and dense percussion call-and-response "Cheguei Meu Povo" and a vocal percussion pitter patter interlude before tapping into a sound more typical of classic romantic samba ("Basica"). That sultry side is balanced by her more aggressive vocal and guitar on the feisty "Nao Adianta," which blends modern rock influences with indigenous soundscaping, complete with birdcalls. Other tracks have slight classical leaning, and there's even a little avant-garde oddity apparent on the brief "Feminina." More mainstream ears will be glued to her sly, sexy reading of U2's "One" and soaring, folk- and chamber music-tinged take on Bjork's dramatic "Bachelorette," which further confirms Assad's incredible willingness to tackle exotic challenges. Though all the stylistic zigzagging is fascinating, Assad is first and foremost a vocalist of heartbreaking intensity, and tracks like the mournful "Bom Dia Tristeza" best reflect her ability to penetrate the heart.
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