“BossaToo” is Kristine Mills’ sixth album and, once again, she plunges deep into the trove of bossa nova’s riches. With her is Klaus Mueller on piano and keyboards, Itaiguara Brandão on guitar and bass, Portinho on drums and Rafael Barata on percussion. Brazilians all with the exception of Mueller, who lived in Brazil for a time.
With the exception of two pieces by Antonio Carlos Jobim and one by Sting/Clapton, the songs are all originals by Mills who composes on guitar but lets Brandão handle the guitar duties on the album.
“Hold Fast”—one of those originals—opens the album. From the outset, Mills’ vocals are clear and clean. There is a nice lilt to her enunciation that adds charm to the already engaging music and lyrics. Her guitar is subtle and in splendid partnership with Muller on piano. The percussion section is understated but complimentary.
“Journey Back Home” is a beautiful track. Mueller’s piano is captivating and it is small wonder that he has written orchestral arrangements for Herbie Hancock. Mueller’s light touch on this track works so very well with Brandão’s light strumming. The vocals carry the narrative beautifully and here’s the thing: Kristine Mills doesn’t sound like anyone else. She is an original and she is good.
“Breathe Your Kiss” (Mills, composer) is a cool bossa nova number. Brandão and Mueller punch up the tempo and the bass, drums and percussion nail the rhythm. Mueller is the principal instrumentalist and he is well-suited to that role. There are great vocals on this track and they only get better on “It’s Over.”
“It’s Over” features Portinho’s fantastic drumming with his broken rhythms and staggered beats. Brandão’s bass should gather great attention, as well. This is a beautifully unified band.
“Meditation” is a great piece by Jobim the Master, arranged by Mills and Mueller. In the Jobim original, the lover is going away but, in Mills’ version, the lover has passed away and the bereaved lover sings this at the departed’s funeral. The mood is drastically, tragically altered and the results are touchingly harrowing.
“Silhouette” is a lush and lovely work. The vocal delivery is right on and the instrumentation is delightful.
“Last First Glance” follows that with a dance-like quality. The melody and the changes are beautiful with Brandão’s excellent
bit of solo. I admit, this track captured me.
“It’s Probably Me” is a song by Sting and Eric Clapton. Fortunately, Mills’ version is done as a baião and that makes all the difference. The baião is native to Northeastern Brazil and while samba and bossa nova are the crown jewels of Brazilian music, the influence of the baião went as far south as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and hugely popularized by Luiz Gonzaga.
The piano gets the sweet spot in the arrangement and Mills’ altered cadence in the vocals renders a far superior version of the song. But then, I’m hooked on Brazilian rhythms.
“Inutil Paisagem” is another Jobim beauty. Brandão’s exquisite guitar work is featured alongside Mills’ vocals. Of course, can anyone ever go astray with Jobim? Certainly Kristine Mills knows how to follow Jobim to the Promised Land. The moving melody and the sad lyrics are perfectly adapted by Mills in both of Jobim’s pieces.
“Not Waiting for Maybe” is another Mills original. Her breathless vocals are paired well with Klaus Mueller on the piano. Mills has a way of stretching the vocal line then letting it snap to cool effect. She is always in complete control.
“Burden of Choice” is actually a revisiting of the same song from her third album, “Bossanovafied.” The tight rhythms are terrific and the keyboards enrich the sweet vocals. The album closes with the pop and swing of the great bossa nova sound.
Kristine Mills’ “BossaToo” is a marvel. Joined by class artists, she is able to explore the beautiful depths and the wondrous heights of bossa nova and she does it with the subtle twist of a phrase or bend of a note.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl
Visit Kristine Mills’ website at: http://www.kristinemillsmusic.com/
“Like” her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/KristineMillsMusic
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"BossToo" can be purchased on iTunes and on Amazon.