At the Birchmere on Monday night, composer and singer Ivan Lins made reference to the seesawing sales of Brazilian music in America and suggested that "better marketing" might improve the situation. He certainly had no trouble soft-selling his own music to an audience that was eager to hear his romantic croon hover over a seemingly endless assortment of insinuating melodies.
An engaging performer, Lins played up both the sunny and seductive sides of his music, singing in Portuguese and English. His repertoire in concert has grown over the years to include not only his hits, including the tunes that won Grammys for George Benson ("Dinorah, Dinorah") and Quincy Jones ("Velas"), but also material inspired by other Brazilian artists, living and dead.
Mixed in with the familiar tunes were examples of what Lins playfully dubbed "Brazilian salsa," which emphasized more aggressive dance beats and allowed his band to stretch out a little.
Throughout the show Lins played electric keyboards while leading a quintet that blended the glossy tones associated with smooth jazz with rhythms indigenous to his homeland and the Caribbean.
Some of the arrangements sounded overly polished, as if tailored for radio airplay, but the often invigorating contributions made by pianist Marco Brito and drummer Teo Lima revealed the muscle beneath the music's obvious surface appeal.