CD Review: Joyce Moreno + Kenny Werner - Poesia

Joyce Moreno and Kenny Werner team up for an excellent album of love songs.
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With over 50 albums between them, numerous awards and nominations, and accolades from greats such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joyce Moreno and Kenny Werner hardly need any introduction. The pair has been leading musical voices in Brazilian and jazz music for decades now, and their working relationship goes back just as far, with Werner playing piano on Moreno's Verve albums and taking part in her 1991 Japanese tour.

When Werner and his band played Brazil a few years ago, he invited Moreno to sit in with him. The combination proved to be magical. This prompted the pair to go into the studio. The resulting duets album, Poesia, is a beautiful marriage of Werner's wonderful piano and Moreno's considerable voice and mixes Brazilian and American songs.

The album opens with the Werner/Moreno original "Second Love Song." Moreno's voice is at once warm and sultry, powerful, yet delicate when it needs to be. Werner's accompaniment is understated, yet effective. He knows when to stay out of the way. "É O Amor Outra Vez" follows and features another strong vocal from Moreno that really showcases her range. Werner cuts loose more here, displaying some nimble chops of his own.

On "Olha Maria" one can sense the longing in Moreno's voice in this track about letting go. Werner's piano punctuates this sad song perfectly. "Mad About The Boy" finds Moreno singing in English and her vocals are just as great, with a breathiness to them. Werner's playing here, as it is throughout is fantastic. One can sense the joy these two great artists have in performing together.

"Throw It Away" begins with Moreno's voice and her fingers snapping before Werner joins in, adding a slinky piano of his own while "Smile" is a brilliant reading of the Charlie Chaplin standard, showcasing some fine piano from Werner. Whether in English, Portuguese, or even Italian as on "Estate," Moreno is a master vocalist. It probably helps that she is fluent in five languages. The album ends with a pretty reading of the old Irish folk song "The Water Is Wide," an excellent closing to a fine album.

Too often when great artists converge the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. This is not the case with Poesia. Moreno and Werner have crafted a fine album of love songs with wonderful singing and playing.