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Badi Assad



Wonderland is something like the musical equivalent of a photographic negative: an oddly inverted place which--as one might guess-–bears more than a passing resemblance to the world Alice visits in Lewis Carroll's masterpiece. Badi Assad's second release on edge/Deutsche Grammophon--a collection of her versions of other artists' compositions--brings new meaning to the term "cover," by concealing sobering political and social messages under alluring and often jubilant melodies. She addresses domestic violence with Asian Dub Foundation's "1000 Mirrors," transforms the cold shimmer of Tori Amos's "Black-Dove (January)" into a subdued meditation on rape, and movingly laments child prostitution on "O Mundo Ê Um Moinho" ("The World Is a Mill"). It is a testament to Assad's artistry, however, that Wonderland's most captivating piece is probably her collaboration with Chico César on "Zoar" ("Buzzing"), an atmospheric march through shadows and light that is by turns ominous and whimsical. And, of course, always hiding behind Assad's enchanting voice is her stellar guitar work, which shines in a beautiful interlude on the album-opening "Acredite Ou Não" ("Believe It or Not") and conjures the dark gravity of flamenco's Soleá on "Distantes Demais" ("Too Far Away"). So it seems likely that long-time aficionados will be eager to fall, like Alice, into Wonderland's rabbit hole--and new fans will find it a challenging work that rewards repeated listening. --Brent Kallmer



The talent of Badi Assad (pronounced Bah-Jee Ah-Sahj) seems to know no bounds. The Brazilian has won guitar awards as a prodigy and as an acknowledged master, yet she's got an almost Bobby McFerrin-like versatility to her voice and musical heritage that covers the breadth of Brazilian musical styles. On Verde she shows off a little of everything: reaching from nearly unrecognizable covers of current pop songs by Bjork ("Bachlorette") and U2 ("One") to new renditions of Brazilian classics like "Bom Dia Tristeza." Her Brazilian sensuality comes out on the bossa nova "In My Little White Top," and she displays the dramatic flair of a flamenco singer on "Voce Nao Entendeu Nada." Whichever direction she goes, she brings a trickster-like joyfulness that comes when musical mastery is child¹s play Each wrinkle of her musical personality is simply another facet of her inner core. Indeed one imagines that this woman not only dreams in color, but also with a Technicolor soundtrack. -- Tad Hendrickson

Three Guitars
Badi Assad with guitarists Larry
Coryell and John Abercrombie

Didn't know what to expect when I picked up this CD. I was quite familiar with Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie, but knew nothing about Badi Assad. Larry and John deliver as expected, but its Badi who gives this session unique sounds and seasonings. Her vocalizing and "percussion" comes out of nowhere, and fits right in. Reminds me a bit of the sound Chick Corea had with Flora Purim and Airto. And her nylon-string guitar adds a color you don't find in your typical two-guitar jazz album. While not all the tunes are masterpieces, there's a plenty of variety and fresh musical ideas. If you're looking for an album that's about blazing guitar pyrotechnics, then this probably isn't for you. Instead, this one is full of tasteful, expressive musicianship and an easy, sensitive interplay, yet with a generous dose of chops. This ain't "smooth jazz" by any means, but rather the creative effort of true artists. --an reviewer


Brazilian-raised Badi Assad is the younger sister of acclaimed classical guitar duo Sergio & Odair Assad. But if her leanings are more toward Brazilian and American pop and jazz, her nylon-string technique is no less prodigious and her classical background no less firm. Slapping the guitar's body, playing percussion with one hand while plucking strings with the other, and singing in a proud but intimate style, Badi became an instant global music phenom in the mid-'90s with the release of her Rhythms and Solo LPs (Chesky). On Chameleon many of the subtleties of her solo work are lost in a sometimes confusing clatter of fusion drumming and glassy reverbs, but the charm, Brazilian pedigree, and musical depth remain. Still, it's hard to recommend it over the immediacy and real-life sonics of her stunning first two releases. --James Rotondi (




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