Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Pieta -album by Milton Nascimento

Recently I got a hold of a copy of Milton Nascimento's album of 2005 entitled Pieta. Was unaware that it had come out, because 1) I was over in Europe then, and 2) I had lost interest in some of Milton's albums of the late 90s and early aughts. At any rate I can report that this release is delightful, and before I go further let me quote the short review over at

"Having recorded a series of highly influential releases during the seventies and early eighties -- and captured a worldwide following in the process -- Nascimento seemed to lose his way for a spell. But thankfully, he is back on track, praising the Eternal Feminine as personified by his mother and other strong women who have touched his life. The theme is not new to him -- the concept of a female twin soul/guardian spirit has recurred in his work since the beginning -- but this is the first time he has dedicated an entire album to the age-old anima/animus duality. His trademark baritone-to-tenor, crowned by an ethereal yet searing falsetto, is companioned by a roster of women altos (Simone Guimarães, Marina Machado, and Maria Rita Mariano) whose voices envelop his like darkly iridescent angel wings. Old friends like lyricist Fernando Brant and bassist Lô Borges, who have been with him since his youthful Clube da Esquina days, are on hand, as are icons from Brazil (arranger Eumir Deodato) and the U.S.(Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock). Although Nascimento's one-time naive sophistication has undeniably been superceded by a knowing, jazzy neo-primitive thrust, this is his finest effort in years and thus, an essential must-have. --Christina Roden "

I first was turned onto the music of Milton Nascimento while in the Peace corps in Jamaica. A member of the German Volunteer Corps in Jamaica, Vinnie, lent me a 100 min cassette tape that was all his music. I remember sitting on the RoofTop bar in Papine, just outside of Kingston, and the view to the south was tremendous; you could see the causeway going out to Port Royale and then south of that the Caribbean sea. Looking at that view, I would recall the song Cravo E Canela (Clove and Cinnamon) by Nascimento , and I could almost sense the energy of the South American continent. Btw that’s an incredible song, one can sense the heart of Minas Geraes and Brazil in it. I duped that tape and continued listening to his songs the rest of the time I was there. And when I got back to the States, I ended up spending a lot of time and effort to get all the songs of his that were on the tape, on albums.(This was back when lps still predominated) It ended up taking something like 14 albums to get that mix.

In the end though the reason I went to so much trouble to recollect all those songs, is the music of Milton Nascimento at its best, is so captivating, sometimes otherworldy, and always filled with heart and soul. He sometimes uses too much lush orchestration which veers into 'cocktail' music for me, but on the other hand his music can reveal incredible South American vistas at times. Nascimento exhibits sheer musical genius in many of his songs.

I did move away in my interest in his albums over say the last ten years, but this album is alive and brings his music up to date, without dipping into any trite trends. The first song on Pieta, A Feminina voz do cantor is one of the most moving songs I have heard in a long time. Its like Nascimento taps into some subconscious feeling that most anyone can relate to. Which makes for great art. Another similarly moving song is Beira-Mar Novo, in which Milton has vocal backing by a group of young Brazilian teens- Meninos de Aracuai.

All the songs have a ‘alive’ sparkling quality. I can recommend it highly, especially if one already likes Brazilian jazz, or likes his music to begin with.
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