Though husband and wife, percussionist Airto and vocalist Flora Purim have attracted somewhat different audiences over the years. Left to his own devices--the trap drums and a table laden with blocks, bells and gourds--Airto blends unusually vigorous Brazilian accents with a burning improvisatory spirit. Purim, on the other hand, prefers a more pop-oriented approach, her voice often dipping from a whirlwind of rushing colors to a genuinely seductive lull.
Tuesday night at Blues Alley, where they'll perform through Sunday, both musicians had an opportunity to shine, as they moved through pieces by Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Milton Nascimento and others.
When saxophonist Joe Farrell and pianist Kei Okagi opened with Davis' "So What," Airto strongly supported their charging choruses, but he was better utilized on the Latin numbers that sparkled with his colorful embellishments. He also conducted a brief yet entrancing master class in Latin percussion using nothing more than a couple of rattles, his feet and his voice.
Purim occasionally achieved the orchestral richness of her recordings by using a pair of microphones that electronically sustained her voice. However, its natural beauty and agility were always apparent, especially on the fanciful, nonverbal tunes where her voice was free to soar--and soar it did.