Maria Rita | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Brazilian singer Maria Rita became a star in her homeland with her self-titled 2004 debut, and her rise to fame was undoubtedly helped by her distinguished bloodline: her father, Cesar Camargo Mariano, is an acclaimed pop and jazz pianist and arranger, and her mother, Elis Regina, was one of Brazil's greatest modern vocalists. (She died of a drug overdose in 1982, when Rita was four.) Much like her mom, Rita brings a jazz flavor to MPB (musica popular brasileira), and she shares her mother's warm, nimble phrasing and willingness to work with unknown songwriters. But she avoids Regina's diva-like tendencies, and ultimately her style is all her own. On the debut, producer Tom Capone enhanced the spare piano-trio arrangements with well-placed guitar and horns, and unlike many Brazilian pop singers, Rita had a genuine working band that could complement her every move. For last year's Segundo (Warner Brothers Latino), produced with Brazilian singer-songwriter Lenine, she recorded live in the studio with the same trio, a bold move that gives the songs an electric immediacy. While she dabbled with Afro-Cuban grooves and subtle funk jams on the first album, Segundo recalls the jazz-harmony pop of Joni Mitchell, though the rhythms are more propulsive. For these shows, her Chicago debut, she'll be joined by her trio--pianist Tiago Costa, bassist Sylvinho Mazzucca, and drummer Cuca Teixeira--and percussionist Da Lua. Mon 5/8, 8:30 and 11 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $35 in advance, $40 at the door. A Brazilian dinner is included in the ticket price.

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