Pauline Croze: Bossa Nova

Swings So Cool, Sways So Gently

Listening Post 98. When bossa nova swept the world, no country was more receptive than France. Marcel Camus’ Oscar-winning film Black Orpheus—music by Tom Jobim and Luiz Bonfá—channeled the Brazilian wave to new audiences. French artists translated and sang bossa nova anthems, and some composed original music in the genre. Sixty years later, the beat goes on. After three solid albums of pop/folk groove, French singer-guitarist Pauline Croze has taken on the bossa nova canon with poise and nonchalance, her voice warm and cool like a tropical breeze from 1959 that might seem more nostalgic if it weren’t so fresh. In Les eaux de Mars (Aguas do Março/Waters of March), Jobim’s stream-of-consciousness classic about the flow and confusion of life, she sings the French translation by Georges Moustaki, one of Édith Piaf’s preferred lyricists (video 1). Singing in Portuguese with Vinicius Cantuária, she is enchanting in A Felicidade (Joy), one of the tracks from Black Orpheus: “Happiness is like a dew drop on a flower’s petal/It calmly shines/And with a light vibration/Falls like a tear” (video 2). Croze delivers La fille d’Ipanema (“Tall and thin and sweet and lovely” in French) as smoothly as the song’s teenage inspiration swayed (video 3). And she’s despairing in Você Abusou (You Took Advantage)—“I’m alone in the universe, afraid of sky and winter, of madmen and of war” (video 4). Her chemistry continues with Nino Ferrer’s melancholy bossa ballad La Rua Madureira (Madureira Street, video 5); Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell’s Samba Saravah (Samba Blessing); and beyond. Like the March floodwaters that carry everything and its opposite, Croze’s Bossa Nova—the album title itself simple and audacious—is both a walk on the beach and a tour de force. (Un Plan Simple)







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