By Andrew Gilbert, East Bay Express

Setting Rays of Summer

At its best MPB (musica popular brasileira) is an inordinately gorgeous tradition that’s both deeply rooted and expansively cosmopolitan. It might seem strange that one of the year’s best MPB albums is a Bay Area production, but the extraordinary duo of San Francisco-reared trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman and Brazilian-born Berkeley guitarist/vocalist Ian Faquini draws inspiration directly from some of Brazil’s greatest composers, most importantly Guinga. Faquini is responsible for the majority of the tunes, which feature Portuguese lyrics by esteemed Brazilian songwriters. With his expert guitar work providing a propulsive lattice for Cressman’s burnished horn and crystalline vocals, they deliver one ravishing song after another. The music is so fully realized that it’s all too easy to forget you’re listening to only two musicians. — AG

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