In Japan, and other parts of Asia, bossa nova is a well-received cultural import. Since the 60’s a number of artists and bands have emerged with unique and at times innovative approaches to the genre. That Lisa Ono is recognized as Japan’s premier ambassador of the music is a testament to her success. “Bossa Carioca” is a celebration of this.

Released more than a decade into her career, the album serves as a compilation of her work to that point. As one of the most prominent Japanese interpreters of the music, there’s no surprise to see familiar titles such as “Chega de Saudade” and “Corcovoda,” on the track listing. Her smooth, clean vocals do songs like these justice and are a good fit with the modern bossa arrangement which is decidedly lightweight.

lisa ono - bossa carioca

Bossa carioca – Lisa Ono

One of the most interesting side notes of Ono’s career in the 90’s was her work with Brazilian lyricist, Ana Terra. This spawned two tracks in the form of “Os Dois” and “Diz a Ela.” The first is a short and easy track, which is accentuated by Paulo Guimarães’ flute solo. “Diz a Ela” stands out even more. Breaking from the album’s upbeat mood, the song features a creeping melody with lazy strings and a melancholy vocal performance; a memorable depature.

Throughout her career Lisa also became well acquainted with the Jobim family and evidently they are featured throughout the album in various capacities. Most notably, Daniel Jobim serves as composer and arranger for the pen ultimate song “Saudade.” The title bears the only resemblance to his father’s celebrated “Chega de Saudade.” A slow track; Jobim plays the piano and provides an amorous arrangement, upon which Ono delivers one of her most well-crafted vocal performances of the album and indeed her career.

“Bossa Carioca” is an album that will be enjoyed by bossa nova fans and one that can be used as a good starting point for anyone interested in delving into Lisa Ono’s discography. Though majorly light and upbeat the album does well to occasionally showcase her other dimensions and features some of the best original bossa nova songs of the 90’s.

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1. So Danco Samba

2. Samba Do Soho

3. Chega De Saudade

4. Samba Do Carioca

5. Corocovado

6. Maria E Dia

7. Os Dois

8. Samba De Verao

9. Ela E Carioca

10. Diz A Ela

11. O Barquinho

12. Saudade

13. Palpite Infeliz

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