Monday, 10 February 2014

Review: Flora Purim - Butterfly Dreams

First emerging on the jazz scene with pianist Duke Pearson and arranger Gil Evans, Flora Purim’s first proper leap into the limelight came with Chick Corea’s invitation to sing and play on the first two electric-jazz-samba Return To Forever albums. The success and exposure of these two landmark efforts then gave the Brazillian singer the impetus and means to launch a solo career, under the stewardship of the highly respected producer Orrin Keepnews.

‘Butterfly Dreams’ from 1974 is that album that launched Purim’s solo career and her unique approach to using her beautiful voice, with an incredible promise that would be fulfilled throughout the rest of the decade. Taking in a mix of material from Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Jobim, Gismonti and some original compositions, it’s a surprisingly brief yet varied and joyous recording that boasts some great supporting players, including as usual her husband and percussion maestro Airto Moreira.

Two very different takes of Clarke’s ‘Dr Jive’ almost bookend the recording with some huge tasty bass and distinctive uptempo Brazillian rhythms underlying Purim’s always outstanding yet perfectly controlled six-octave vocal range. Jobim’s ‘Dindi’ gets a gentle and sympathetic reading, while ‘Summer Night’ and ‘Moon Dreams’ are pure bundles of energy driven by the very alive hotly funky rhythm team.

Joe Henderson, the master tenor saxman, lends a very rare yet welcome appearance on flute, while David Amaro makes the first of many energetic and distinctive guest slots with Purim. ‘Love Reborn’ in particular gets to show Henderson’s saxophone at its best, and some nice acoustic guitar work.

Closing with a redux of Clarke’s ‘Light As A Feather’ that isn’t too far from the original and more famous version from the Return To Forever album of the same name, it signals the end of a beautiful yet also playful and fun debut that is able to showcase Purims many incredible vocal strengths and talents. An outstanding record, it’s recommended to practically anyone.


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