CD REVIEW: Mishka Adams & Beto Caletti - Puentes Invisibles



Mishka Adams & Beto Caletti - Puentes Invisibles
(Self-released. CD Review by Alison Bentley)


The bridges in this CD may be invisible (Puentes Invisibles) but they’re wonderfully clear to the ear. Love songs drawing on Argentinian and Brazilian styles are sung in four languages by Mishka Adams and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Beto Caletti, and the mood is joyful and sunny.

Several pieces are written by Argentinian Caletti. He’s worked with Brazilian singer/composer Ivan Lins, and Mil Vezes is co-written in Portuguese with Lins’ lyricist, Celso Viáfora. With its uplifting, winding melody over ever-surprising chords, it recalls some of Toninho Horta’s songs. Nuria Martinez’ flute entwines irresistibly with the vocal lines. Caletti has recorded some of these songs elsewhere; Mil Vezes is from his album Tess, while Chacarera de Maria is from his trio Los Musiqueros’ album of ‘neighbourhood romances’. It’s charming dance about the wooing of shy Maria, with a traditional Argentinian dance rhythm in 6 – with jazz harmony. A melodica provides a third voice between the seamless vocal harmonies of Caletti and Adams.

Caletti sings his En el del Cielo and Puentes Invisibles in Spanish, with harmonies and countermelodies from Adams. The first has complex chords and flattened 5ths in the melody that I look forward to every time. The second is a slow, emotive Argentinian zamba. The melancholy lift in the chords and soft voices strongly recalls the delicacy of Ivan Lins. Caletti’s La Cuerda (an Argentinian milonga) is a playful wordless melody sung with pinpoint accuracy and verve over an upbeat Latin groove. There’s a fine acoustic guitar solo and the occasional darker bass note to spice the harmony (also played by Caletti.) It brought to mind the happy anarchy of some of Hermeto Pascoal’s tunes.

Adams has written lyrics to some of Caletti’s melodies, some in English. On the opening track The Great Unknown (recorded wordlessly elsewhere as Deshoras) her voice has a lovely unforced clarity. Caletti is a superb jazz guitarist, and his solo at the end of the track fades out all too soon. The melody seems simple, but it’s pulled across the chords in such way that the more you listen, the more you notice – and are intrigued. Nothing to Fear owes a little to early Joni in the high tone and phrasing. The voice is open and vulnerable ("How does it feel? To hide and wish that somebody would come?") over multi-tracked acoustic guitar and layers of vocal harmony.

Adams is half Filipina, and her lyrics in Filipino to Caletti’s Luca’s Lullaby, bring out a different, more folk-edged timbre in her voice. It’s a soothing and deceptively simple song with just acoustic guitar and two voices. Adams’ Filipino Puso Mo opens with warm cymbal rushes – special mention for Diego Alejandro whose subtle drumming adds so much to the album. Pedro Carneiro Silva’s piano solo, with its oriental overtones, blends fascinatingly with the Latin guitar and Adams’ impassioned vocals.

Two songs are by famous composers. Argentinian singer Chacho Echennique wrote Doña Ubenza, with its daring harmonies. Adams and Caletti smooth over the traditional Indian dance rhythms into something more gentle and intimate. Adams has recorded several jazz CDs on the Candid label, including the Buarque/Lobo classic Beatriz on her Stranger on the Shore album. She negotiates the melody’s highs and lows brilliantly, while it enacts a tale of love for a trapeze artist. There’s no safety net in this version – just voice and guitar, colla voce.

Mishka Adams’ and Beto Caletti’s love for the music is palpable, bringing together Argentinian and Brazilian music with a singer-songwriter’s personal touch and superb musicianship.

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