This is a duo whose music projects a folk/world music attitude and beauty. Ian Faquini and Natalie Cressman each have lovely voices that sound delightful in solo settings and mesh warmly, like sunshine sparkling on calm seas, when they harmonize. Their music rolls over us in gentle waves. All the music is composed by Ian Faquini and Ms. Cressman lends her lyrical poetry. They sing mostly in Portuguese, sometimes in French, but for the most part his acoustic guitar and her trombone celebrate Brazilian roots. Both artists have albums of their own. This is Cressman’s fifth release as a leader and Faquini’s third. Together, it becomes their debut collaboration. The opening song is titled, “Tere” and the story is explained in the liner notes. It is an angry, social outcry deriding the violence against women. I wish they had included English lyrics in their album jacket, because the majority of these songs are not sung in English.
Faquini’s guitar is busy, rhythmic and incorporates baiao, samba and ijexa in the various arrangements. Ijexa is a Brazilian folk music influenced greatly by African rhythms. Natalie Cressman has penned the French lyrics to the “L’aube” song. This is followed by “Debandada” imploring the ijexa musical legacy. She plays a soothing trombone solo on this composition. We hear her sing in English on the title tune, “Setting Rays of Summer.” It has a very compelling melody and Natalie Cressman’s sincere and intimate vocal delivery sells the song and shines against Ian Faquini’s sensitive guitar accompaniment. Cressman wrote these lyrics too. Their voices duet and dance on “Mandingueira” in Portuguese. It is an up-tempo composition that begs for a drummer and a percussionist. Faquini himself adds vocal percussiveness at the introduction. Perhaps it is the simplicity of this production that beckons the listener to come closer, with open hearts, and to soak up the purity of their musical message. This music is not what I would call jazz, but it is drenched in the folklore and the hypnotic rhythms and language of Brazil. It’s a sweet listen.