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Brazil is unusually rich in excellent singers, but even in a crowded field of brilliant vocalists, Ithamara Koorax stands out (and not only because she has the most awesome name in all of jazz). In a way, this album comes as something of a surprise -- João Gilberto is such an important name in Brazilian music that it's difficult to believe that either his entire compositional output can fit on a single disc, or that a "songbook" project like this has never been attempted. But both actually seem to be the case, and it's hard to imagine a better pair to take on the project than Koorax and the equally gifted guitarist Juarez Moreira. Both the singing and the playing are consistently brilliant throughout the program -- while the guitar instrumental "An Embrace to Bonfá" is pretty but unexceptional, the songs are all gems, from the sweet and tender "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá" to the nimbly jazzy "Bim Bom," and from the lightly dancing "Minha Saudade" to the simple and heartbreakingly beautiful "Undiu." The latter exemplifies one of Gilberto's interesting tendencies -- writing songs composed of either a single word ("Undiu") or no words at all, only vocalese ("Valsa (Bebel)"). Absolutely wonderful.