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It goes down a little too easy

September 2, 2008
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Milton Nascimento & the Jobim Trio

Novas Bossas (Blue Note)

ESSENTIAL "Samba do avião"

In honor of the 50th anniversary of bossa nova, Brazilian legend Milton Nascimento has paired with Antonio Carlos Jobim's son and grandson to record a handful of Jobim classics, some of his own hits, and a few other gems in bossa nova style. The result is "Novas Bossas," a lightly likable set of tunes unlikely to set anyone's world on fire, out Sept. 30. Nascimento has been a superstar since 1972's "Clube da Esquina," and his voice is as feathery and gorgeous as ever, but some essential spark is missing from "Novas Bossas." Reworked versions of his own songs, like "Cais" from "Clube da Esquina," are mostly colorless when compared with the originals. Bossa nova has always been a laid-back form, owing something to its roots in Rio's beach culture, but "Novas Bossas" is less placid than sleepy. Only a few songs here raise the album's pulse, foremost among them "Samba do avião," a Jobim classic that requires a singer able to ride its steadily ascending wave. Nascimento does that and more, making listeners wish that "Novas Bossas" could have been more energetic about being laid-back. [Saul Austerlitz]

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