Flora Purim – Perpetual Emotion
(Narada – 2001)
by Phyllis A. Lodge
Perpetual Emotion, Brazilian vocalist Flora Purim’s “Narada jazz debut”, transports us through a gallery of emotion in sound. Her vocalise charms catch our ear and leaves one tingling behind each flawlessly articulated number which includes compositions by Jobim, McCoy Tyner, Kurt Weill, Chick Corea and Ira Gershwin. Ms. Purim’s voice is a finely tuned, perfectly seasoned instrument and this music is a collage of images – abundant and lush.
SAN FRANCISCO RIVER is Ms. Purim’s own composition, praising a river’s spirit. There’s a river [in Brazil]… called the San Francisco River… she explains. I used to sing to the river, that as it flowed out to the ocean, it would take me to America. The moment she draws that first breath, she quietly and swiftly claims the song. Ms. Purim’s voice is focused purity; her phrasing as magical as nature’s capacity to surprise. Also, notice pianist Christian Jacob’s highly effective chord-work in this number.
Saxophonist Gary Meek is the arranger on Gil Evans’ My Ship. The opening, tightly knit horn ensemble rekindles the bygone era of the saxophone section. Ms. Purim’s treatment invokes for me this image of a figure whose back is to us, contemplating a harbor at twilight, bathed in an aura radiant with anticipation of ‘My Ship’.
ESCAPE snatches you out of harbor-gazing into flight. Fueled (as in all the selections) by Airto’s percussion, Ms. Purim’s lyrics lift you in the air. Her musical phrasing is ever amazing in its command of your awe, and will leave you breathless. You sense the thrill of total escape, and the inner freedom that follows. And Meek’s saxophone solo taunts and cackles in mockery at the futility of anyone or anything’s attempt to subdue….
Saudade, although untranslated, is the graceful down slope of a spirit in repose. The piece actually floats. Ms. Purim’s voice caresses like an accomplished masseuse who instinctively presses away that one spot of tension, replacing it with your sigh of relief as well as a quiet smile..
In Gil Evans’ Crystal Silence, Ms. Purim’s delicate statement touches the silent yearning of the heart bemoaning a state of loss. Where? Why? … it pleads, alluding to the slivers of chard that torment the memory. She chants: As long as I exist I will recall the man I knew so well. The pianist steals amid her forlorn pleas with eloquence and compassion. And Airto, like an ancient priest, rattles healing sounds around the vocals, transforming the quiet sorrow, into a balm of hope.
The soul mate exchange exhibited in Flora & Airto simply must be experienced. Truly there is an extraordinary communication here between two superb beings and highly attuned kindred spirits. Such a spiritual duet can ring forever.
Just go on ahead and melt right now, because it is inevitable with the opening vocal passages by the OK Choral Choir in Jobim’s Fotographia. Revive yourselves, though, for you will want to experience the richly entwined harmonics that permeate this number. Ms. Purim’s vocal magic soars from a very beautiful place to share this fotographia. She leads our hearts to a spot that swells the emotions to overflowing, before she takes aim and snaps us into the picture.
Journey to Eden treats us once again to Ms. Purim’s mastery of the hypnotic. Her provocative expression transfers us as it provides a connecting staircase to the soft light glowing within her musical treasury. She shines the light for us, allowing us to travel with her fearlessly. She navigates her musical waves freely in all directions, and at all speeds and distances without ever losing her center — or the destination.
Since pianist McCoy Tyner is a particular favorite of mine, I waited in breathless anticipation of Ms Purim’s performance in Search for Peace. Utilizing her powers of understatement this time, she steps out sure-footed, encircling the sense of peace without intrusion. “Words are not enough…” she intones, and hums a bit, reveling within its serenity. The piano solo is a sensitive tribute to Tyner’s composition. Ms. Purim recreates a space of peacefulness that will enfold us long after the final notes subside.
In Airto’s Jazz Dance, “Time flies” past scenery, and beyond light years. The musicians handle this high-intensity piece with an ease that will leave your jaw agape as it spins you into a near-dizziness. A vocalist scatting tones, percussive sounds and the like, is the epitome of improvisational vocal skill, and the natural percussion in Ms. Purim’s spirit emerges on cue as she dances in tandem with Airto’s leads. Their intricately crafted embellishments spark the air with flashes of sizzling “insightment”. I even had this ‘flashback’ to an earlier piece on this CD. Can you guess which one?*
And finally, with Carinhoso the crew comes to a perfect landing. This number is somehow familiar to me. It embraces the romantic, like the romance of one with one’s culture; one’s home; one’s environment. There’s no translation of this number, unfortunately. You must simply, as the great vocalist, Betty Carter once stated: “Open your head” to the message. I suspect your heart will open to it as well.
Each musical offering on Perpetual Emotion is a deep-reaching emotional treatment that will leave you more astounded than the last. I found myself musing and chuckling to myself after each number: “And now how do you plan to top that one, Ms. Flora?” And ‘Ms. Flora’ simply gets the last laugh as she keeps adding masterpiece, after mind-blower, on top of miraculous. It has been 10 years since Flora Purim’s last U.S. release, and after experiencing Perpetual Emotion, I would will myself to wait 100 years for the next release, and the next…. Dear listeners, you are in for a divine experience.
Ms. Purim expresses these among other sentiments about Perpetual Emotion:
“It feels like there’s no need to have a high-powered sound all the time… it brought me a lot of happiness to find out that I still could sing this music, in an age where electronic instruments are everywhere. I poured my heart into it.”
[Personnel: Flora Purim, vocals; Gary Meek, saxophone & arranger; Christian Jacob, piano; Trey Henry, bass; Oscar Castro Neves, guitarist; Airto Moriera, percussion]