Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
It was an evening of roots music, Brazilian and American style. Singer Flora Purim, who made her Washington debut Sunday night at the Warner Theater with two shows that also featured Bob James and Friends, may use a lot of newfangled musical technology, but the seven-piece international band that backs her believes in getting down to basics right away which in Sunday night's first show meant lots of lunk and lots of samba.
Led by Purim's husband, virtuoso percussionist Airto Moreira, the band supplied the solid rhythmic foundation that permitted Purim to take off on some of the most unusual vocal flights of fancy ever attempted by a vocalist. Aided by an echoplex and a harmonizer, she imitated birds, the wind, whales, and the sea in addition to singing in English, Portuguese and Spanish.
Oddly enough, though, the evening's strongest moments were purely instrumental: a guitar-keyboards exchange on Milton Nascimento's "Nothing Will Be As It Was" and a spectacular Latin number that moved from 7/4 time to 2/4 and then back to 7/4. On the latter number, Moreira and drummer Ricky Lawson led the entire ensemble - and some of the crowd - into a fevered, brutally percussive rendition of a Rio Carnival "batucada."