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The Beat Goes On : Bebel Gilberto, daughter of bossa nova great Joao Gilberto, has her own musical approach.

July 31, 1992|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Don Heckman writes regularly about music for The Times

Daughters with famous fathers seems to be a recurring theme these days.

There was Natalie Cole's unforgettable encounter with Nat King Cole's music; then there was a classic reunion between Bonnie Raitt and her dad, Broadway star John Raitt.

This week, at Le Cafe in Sherman Oaks, Bebel--short for Isabel--Gilberto, the daughter of bossa nova great Joao Gilberto, is putting yet another spin on the father-daughter connection. Although her dad will not put in an appearance tonight, Gilberto will do a few of his tunes, and bring her own younger, more contemporary musical approach to the bossa nova.

"Sometimes people expect me to do exactly what my father does," explained Gilberto in her colorfully accented English. "But I'm strongly against this, because I think it would be too easy for me. I could imitate my father, but I hope I can do something different, too.

"One of the things I'll do on this gig, for example," she said, "is a version of 'S'Wonderful' with tambourine and the rhythm of bossa nova--but different. I like the feeling of bossa nova, but I don't want to do something as famous as "Corcovado" or "The Girl From Ipanema." So I try to pick songs that remind me of bossa nova--I have a song of my own like that--that are new and unusual."

Despite her still-developing English, Gilberto was actually born in this country while her father and her mother, singer Miucha Buarque (sister of another Brazilian singer-songwriter, Chico Buarque) were briefly living in New York City.

"It's strange," said Gilberto, "but I'm an American citizen, even though I never lived here. When I was 3 I was taken to Mexico, because my father was making a record there. We went to Brazil when I was 5, and that's where I lived until last year."

She visited the United States with her parents when she was 8, and Joao Gilberto was scheduled to make a concert appearance.

"My father was supposed to sing at Carnegie Hall with Stan Getz and all these important musicians," Gilberto said. "And he decided that I should come to the concert, too. Then, he suddenly decided I should sing a song I had recorded with my mother. I was completely nervous. So my mother gave me a pair of new yellow shoes. She told me, 'Listen, if you sing very well, I can give you these shoes and you can look like a princess; but you have to sing very well.'

"I don't know if I sang well or not. But I did get to keep the yellow shoes!"

In recent months, Gilberto has sung--along with Laurie Anderson and a cast of other Brazilian stars at a Brooklyn Academy of Music celebration for Carmen Miranda; she has sung at The Ballroom in New York City. Most important, she has elected to stick around for a while in the country of her birth, learn the language and try her luck at a singing career.

"My dream is to sing a lot, do more gigs, maybe a little touring and make a recording," she said.

And she intends to do it as Bebel Gilberto, not as the daughter of Joao.

"It's like I said before," she said. "I don't want to sing just bossa nova like my father. But I don't want to sing rock 'n' roll, either. I guess I just want to sing like myself."

Where and When

Who: Bebel Gilberto.

Location: Le Cafe, 14633 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.

Hours: 9 and 11 tonight.

Price: $10, with two-drink minimum.

Call: (818) 986-2662.

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