Words by Brendon Griffin
As the daughter of one of the Assad Brothers, a world-beating Brazilian classical guitar duo, it’s perhaps no surprise that Clarice Assad’s star is rising. She’s certainly nothing if not ambitious, assembling here a cast of over 40 musicians playing almost as many genres: classical, Gypsy jazz, Afro-Brazilian percussion, Broadway musical and even hip-hop. Does it all hang together? Yes – surprisingly and wonderfully so, once you ride out the initial sensory assault. Assad is possessed of an elemental voice and the opener, ‘De Perna Pro Ar’, unleashes its power, belting out a jazz-flavoured piece with a piano-led hip-hop interlude and the merest, tantalising snippet of ‘Asa Branca’ as coda. It goes to show that she’s as much a Brazilian classicist as a classically trained Brazilian; for all the vaulting orchestrations and operatic cuts and pastes, there’s an MPB heart at the core of her compositions, audible in the bird-whistle and choral arrangement of ‘Pássaros’, in the spare percussion and fierce, Tom Zé-meets-Nara Leão vibe of ‘Tempestade’ and the Joyce-esque glissandos of ‘Da Imaginação’. No single review can really do justice to Imaginarium’s dazzling range and complexity.