Edu Lobo is (unjustly) one of the least-celebrated of the major songwriting lions of the first Brazilian wave, and a talented performer in his own right -- which his first North American album makes stunningly clear. Painstakingly produced by one of Lobo's most persistent advocates, Sergio Mendes, the album overflows with cunningly devised, first-class tunes like "Ponteio," "To Say Goodbye," the marathon "Crystal Illusions," "Casa Forte," and the irresistible "Jangada." Some have Portuguese lyrics, some are in English, but others simply use sharp scatted syllables, an art at which the low-key but nimble-tongued Lobo excels. The material is so strong that one wonders why the Beatles' "Hey Jude" had to be added to the lineup (presumably in an attempt [failed] to attract a wider audience for the record). The backings strip the base of Sergio Mendes' Brasil '66 sound down to its rhythm section, fortified by the playful and enigmatic electric piano and flute multiphonics of Hermeto Pascoal (who also had a big hand in the arrangements), Airto Moreira's multifaceted percussion talents, and an occasional cello quartet. Collectors of Brazilian jazz should seek this one out; it is absolutely essential.