TANIA MARIA is much more than just a gifted singer; she's a total musician. She proves as much on "That Lady From Brazil," which features her as a songwriter, keyboardist, producer and scat improviser as well as a vocalist.

The Brazilian performer wrote all eight songs on her new album, and all boast beguiling melodies stretched out over American swing and Brazilian samba rhythms. Tania Maria doesn't belt out these sensual melodies; she caresses them in her mouth and at the keyboard until they seem to melt into her improvisations.

On her last album, producer Eumir Deodato tried to turn Tania Maria into a pop-funk star, with disastrous results. This time she's produced five of the songs herself and has even asserted her personality on the three handled by George Duke. The result's a sympathetic light touch that suits her feathery tone and skipping delivery perfectly.

Top American rhythm players such as Eddie Gomez, Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine and Paulinho da Costa supply the supple beat beneath the singer's dizzying scat excursions, "Tanoca Vignette" and "Bronx," and her eloquent love songs, "I Should Not Call You" and "It Hurts So Much."


"That Lady From Brazil" (Manhattan ST-53045). Appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley.