Fabiana Cozza
Saturday, 15 August 2009 at 7:00pm • Vandusan Botanical Gardens

Performers Fabiana Cozza, vocals; Rodrigo Campos, cavaquinho; Renato Epstein, guitar; Marcos Palva, bass; Douglas Alonso, percussion

Reviewer John Jane

I’ve never been really keen on outdoor concerts. The sound system is often inadequate and if it rains during the show... well, everyone gets wet. However, if the weather co-operates, as it did on Saturday, the grassy banks of VanDusen Botanical Gardens is certainly my venue of choice. And what more would you need than a feast of sunny sambas and unrestrained Afro-Brazilian folk songs to keep you warm when the sun goes down.

Hugely popular in her own community of São Paulo, Fabiana Cozza has been described by her countrymen as one of the most expressive interpreters of Afro-Brazilian music today, frequently compared to the late Clara Nunes.

Cozza sang her entire song selection in Portuguese, but she has enough charisma to eliminate language barriers. Backed by an accomplished quartet led by music director and electric bass player Marcos Paiva, she twirled and swirled around the stage, expressing her kind of music with movement as well as vocally.

In her first ever concert in Canada, Ms Cozza set a festive mood with the vibrant opening number, Incensa from her CD, Quando O Céu Clarear, the second to be released in North America. Among other tunes the Brazilian troubadour performed from the same CD were the infectious Xangô Te Xinga and the multi-layered Saudação Para Iemanjá.

While some of the artist’s native repertoire is compelling and an easy listen even for those unable to understand the Portuguese language, the concert would have been more satisfying had I been able to fully appreciate how the text had been crafted into the songs.

It’s easy to see why Fabiana Cozza is so revered in her own country and has won over audiences wherever she has performed. For the last song, she stepped down from the stage and passed barefoot through the crowd joining hands with people in a circle of friendship.

© 2009 John Jane