Considering Milton’s more recent releases and checking out this album’s game plan on paper, this is one that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does. Perhaps it’s the cynic in me but two cats from France who play both jazz and classical music decide to do a tribute album to Milton Nascimento with Milton singing some of his music from the seventies with a jazz combo and a symphonic chamber orchestra. Excuse me: been there, done that, and certainly it won’t be half as good as back in the mid seventies, or the eighties or even the early nineties. Why even try it?

Cause one never knows until one do. Lo and behold trumpeter/flugelhornist Stephane Belmondo and saxophonist/flautist Lionel Belmondo, along with arranger/pianist Eric Legnini actually pull this off admirably. Milton’s voice is not what it was but you know he already told us: “nothing will be as it was,” so there’s no new news there.
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On this album Milton’s singing never reaches the heights of the past but they never sink to the level of tripe either. Hell, he’s a sixty-something diabetic, there’s only so much he can do physically. Indeed, I never expected him to… well, let’s just put it this way, if Stevie Wonder is coasting, Milton ought to be some where resting.

But, on the other hand, Milton has always given his all, and even at less than optimal he’s a whole lot better than most.

The arrangements and classical music touches are interesting without being attractive to me, but as soon as Stephane blows his flugelhorn or Eric Legnini plays a piano solo my ears perk up. Stephane is really the soul of all of this. Don’t get me wrong, Milton is still Milton, still a mountain of music but there is some else real going on in that flugelhorn that makes me want to hear more of this cat.

Unfortunately, this independently produced French recording, Milton Nascimento & Belmondo, is near impossible to find in the USA.

—Kalamu ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Monday, August 4th, 2008 at 5:11 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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