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Pop Music Review

Monte Evokes Pop Glamour, Skimps on Brazilian Touch

September 25, 2000|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An unprecedented run of Southland appearances by three major Brazilian divas wound up Friday with the colorful arrival of singer Marisa Monte at UCLA's Royce Hall.

Following dynamic performances over the past two weeks by singer-dancers Daniela Mercury and Elba Ramalho, Monte's physical presentation seemed relatively static.

A tall, slender woman with an elegant model's look, she largely remained center stage, the focus of an expansive stage setting. In addition to her nine-piece ensemble (with four percussionists), she was surrounded by sail-like wings of stretched fabric that were used to present a constantly changing flow of abstract visual projections.

It was, in many respects, the sort of audiovisual production that has become increasingly common with American pop acts. And, appropriately so, given the strong, international pop orientation of most of Monte's program.

Relying heavily on selections from her current Metro Blue album, "Memories, Chronicles and Declarations of Love," the tone of the music was considerably more dominated by pop romanticism than the far-reaching thematic content of her earlier recordings.

"Amor I Love You," a hit in Brazil, drew instantly enthusiastic reactions from the Brazilians in the crowd. But a much older piece, Nelson Cavaquinho's "Gotas de Luar" ("Drops of Moonlight"), was more affecting than most of the other well-produced but somewhat repetitious numbers.

Given the accessibility of her music, it's not surprising that Monte is such a major pop star, but--for this performance, at least--she left behind too many of the rich Brazilian elements that made the performances of Mercury and Ramalho so engaging.

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