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Blame it on the bossa nova

August 10, 2003|Louise Roug

When cellist Yo-Yo Ma began work on his new album of bossa nova, classical and samba music, "Obrigado Brazil," he wanted to enlist musicians he admires.

"There was so much we wanted to do that it was hard to choose," Ma said by phone from New York. "I heard Rosa Passos," and knew he wanted to work with the singer.

But how to get in touch with her? Eventually, he tracked down her address in the Brazilian coastal state of Bahia. He knew she didn't travel frequently but still wrote to ask her if she would be interested in coming to the United States to record the album. "I was thinking, 'Who knows? She might answer.' "

Three days later, a man knocked on Ma's door in Cambridge, Mass. He said he had heard Ma was a fan of Passos and, as her brother-in-law, could he be of help? It turned out, Ma said, that the man lived in a neighboring town.

"That's the modern world," Ma said. "What's far is actually near."

Ma will perform tonight at the Hollywood Bowl with the Assad Brothers, Cyro Baptista, Paquito D'Rivera, Nilson Matta, Kathryn Stott -- and Passos.

-- Louise Roug

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