"Delightful" is the word that comes to mind after absorbing Talisman, the collaborative record from Sammy Figueroa & Glaucia Nasser. Traditional with a modernist feel, Puerto Rican-born Sammy Figueroa's percussive mastery (congas and batá) provides ample framework for São Paulo-based soloist Glaucia Nasser's exquisite vocals. Calling the resultant sound of Talisman "Latin-Brazilian fusion" ties too neat a bow unto the innumerable Caribbean, bossa nova, samba and jazz influences.
The product of a fateful meeting performing at a Miami concert, Talisman feels like it was a joy to create and record; the chemistry between Figueroa and Nasser is magnetic and evokes a vibe similar to the classic Clara Nunes & Milton Nascimento team-ups. This is true whether delivering slow burners like "E Quando Quero" and "Abrigo," or more uptempo numbers like "Ilu-aye" and "Boca de Siri." The reverential number "Mandela" perhaps applies sentiment too heavily in paying respect to the late South African leader, but the infectious charm of "Um Olhar De For" manages to overcome any seeming artistic missteps. Fusing the disparate "world music" elements is harder than the duo make it seem; Talisman is a revelation of sound, an elevation of the genre and a best of the year candidate. (Savant Records)