Badi Assad - Verde
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cd cover Badi Assad
Edge/Universal Music

With the preternaturally talented Assad Brothers in the family, you'd think this Brazilian-Lebanese clan would have fulfilled its quota of musical prodigies. But younger sister Badi has proved that there was more up the family's sleeve.

The story goes that Badi went into seclusion to learn her instruments - voice and acoustic guitar - more thoroughly. The result has been an artist who can create an incredible array of sounds in solo performances. Overtone singing, playing guitar with one hand and percussion instruments in another; slapping and popping herself like a human drum machine, Assad does it all, but keeps it from seeming gimmicky with a palpable spirituality.

Her challenge has been creating albums that live up to her stunning live shows. On her latest, she plays it relatively straightforwardly, sounding more like an ingenue of MPB, or musica popular brasileira, with some twists and flourishes. She does creative covers of songs by Bjork and U2, while her original tune of a woman's scorn, "Nao Adianta," sounds like it could be an MPB classic.

This singular performer, who has wowed jazz and guitar buffs for several years, is probably too idiosyncratic for the pop charts, but Verde shows that there is apparently little she can't do well. - Marty Lipp

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