Indie Records
label website

On March 22, 2002, Samba diva Alcione, daughter of the conductor of Maranhão's Military Police band and also playing the clarinet and trumpet, celebrated her 30th year in a solid career as legendary vocalist of uptempo sambas and sultry ballads captured on 19 gold and two platinum albums. Ao Vivo is a life recording of her greatest, most enduring hits, fronting an enthusiastic audience knowing most numbers by heart to often turn volunteer mass backup chorus. As the cover art shows, Alcione has grown into what slang refers to as a big mama - but you'd know that purely by listening. She's plainly a force of nature, possessed of the power, scope and spectacular presence that nearly seems to require an appropriately sized physical vessel to be harnessed. Among black Gospel singers, we know many famous precedents who could prompt devotional tears even from nonbelievers purely by the sheer charisma of their voice. And when it comes to vocal charisma, shininess, pure juice and grandeur, Alcione rules from Olympian heights. Even her name gives it away: As the brightest of the Pleiades' seven sisters Asterope, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta and Celaeno, Alcione also rules this popular constellation.

What Ao Vivo lacks in studio slickness and tweaked recording quality is more than made up for by the heightened charge of this celebratory event; by the give-and-take between audience and performer; by the support of a large cadre of backup musicians clearly inspired to play with one of their country's greats. The programme alternates between bouncy uptempo sambas that telegraph Carneval with all its libertine vibe and rollicking rhythm sections inciting mass hip gyrations and overt sensuality on the street; and saucy nightclub boleros that leave little to the imagination. For a serious injection of life-affirmingly sunny energy and Afro-Brazilian, post-bossa nova, Samba-Pop sauce, Alcione is the ticket - and with 16 generously lengthy tracks, Ao Vivo invites your unabashed indulgence.