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JAZZ REVIEW

Ivan Lins proves he's a winner

February 14, 2007|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

The Grammy show was just getting cranked up at Staples Center when multiple-award winner Ivan Lins strolled on stage Sunday afternoon at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Arguably the best Brazilian songwriter since Antonio Carlos Jobim, Lins didn't have any Grammy nominations this year, but if that thought crossed his mind, it didn't show in his performance, which was a masterful display of musicality, entertainment and communication.

Standing behind his Yamaha keyboard, playing the lush harmonic chords that are the foundation of his style, he sang one memorable song after another. Many were familiar: "Love Dance," "Comecar de Novo," "Lembra de Mim," "Aparacida" and "E de Deus" among them. Some were performed with Lins' stellar guest stars -- trumpeter Terence Blanchard, bassist Christian McBride and the New York Voices.

As intriguing as the musical partnerships were -- especially the warm, musically synchronous interaction with Blanchard -- this was Lins' day, and he was in especially engaging form. Backed by a superb band, Lins revealed his brilliant combination of Brazilian rhythms and performance style with the swing and improvisatory magic of American jazz.

Clearly in an energetic mood, responding to an enthusiastic audience, he dipped into other musical areas as well. "E Ouro Em Po" took a jaunty look at the schottische-based rhythms of northern Brazil called xote. "Rei Do Carnaval opened the way for stirring solos from guitarist Leonardo Amuedo and saxophonist Marcelo Martins, soaring over steaming samba school rhythms. And "Missing Miles," a touching, lyrical tribute to Miles Davis, was sung by Lins as a wordless melody, again featuring Amuedo and Martins.

It was a marvelous performance -- with or without awards, a performance that's going to be hard to top in the coming season.

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