HAVING Tania Maria sing "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" as a sultry, seductive samba sounds like a dumb idea, but the Brazilian vocalist/keyboardist makes it work, transforming the sledgehammer guitar riff into a jaunty horn figure and the angry lyric into a stoic lament. If she can give a Rolling Stones number (or a show tune like "I Can't Give You Anything But Love") a Brazilian sensuality, imagine what she does to her seven originals on her new album, "Bela Vista." This project is a welcome return to the fluid Latin rhythms and melodies of her early Concord albums.
On five of her originals, Maria sings scat syllables or repeated phrases rather than full-fledged lyrics, turning her marvelous voice into one more instrument in the band. Her voice can be as percussive as a vibraphone or as languorous as an alto sax, as supportive as a comping piano or as attention-grabbing as a soloing trumpet. In either role, she takes full advantage of the disarming, intoxicating melodies she has composed, and she gets lots of help from a horn section led by trumpeter Lew Soloff.
Bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Steve Gadd, who both make guest appearances on "Bela Vista," co-produced, co-wrote and anchored the rhythms on Gomez's latest solo album, "Street Smart." Gomez is best known for playing with pianist Bill Evans for 11 years, but the bassist emphasizes the salsa rhythms of his native Puerto Rico on this jazz fusion album. The results are pleasant but Gomez too willingly settles for a monotonous groove or a slight melody. We never get to hear his knack for harmonic invention; instead electric keyboards plaster over every open space in the music.