"Rive Gauche Rio"

Six Degrees

Brazilian singer-songwriter Celso Fonseca can't prevent summer's imminent passing. But after listening to "Rive Gauche Rio," you may find yourself convinced that he's somehow managed to place the season on "pause" for a while.

An insinuatingly rhythmic, transatlantic charmer, his latest bossa nova CD is inspired by the romance of Paris and Rio, circa the '50s and '60s. Fonseca sings in Portuguese for the most part (occasionally in English and Spanish) and always in a whispery croon. He rarely relies on his acoustic guitar to set a mood or create a pulse, instead preferring a low-keyed assortment of percussion, string and keyboard instruments to do the job. But most of the tunes here eventually flow like a cool breeze, from the opening ode, "O Rio Para Tras," to the softly harmonized (and Bahia-flavored) "Atlantico," to the album's tenor sax-tinted coda, "Na Pele De Um Flaneur." The last instantly evokes memories of Stan Getz's eloquent way with a Jobim tune.

As for the English lyrics, Irish tunesmith Damien Rice is represented on "Delicate," which sounds awfully routine amid the album's lyrical performances. Far more enjoyable is Fonseca's self-penned "My Broken Heart," a lovely, melancholy ballad that inspires a soulful vocal. Another treat is the Spanish-language duet "Don De Fluir," which finds Fonseca casually and tunefully collaborating with its composer, Uruguayan songwriter Jorge Drexler. Earlier this year, Drexler won an Oscar for Best Song for composing "Al Otro Lado Del Rio," his contribution to "The Motorcycle Diaries."

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Wednesday at Blues Alley.