Teofilo Chantre Rodatempo

The belated international celebrity of Cape Verde's most famous export, Cesaria Evora, has not only elevated the profile of the archipelago's signature morna music, the rising tide has also lifted the boats of the musicians in her orbit. Bau is the alter ego of Rufino Almeida, who was born on the same Cape Verde island, Sao Vicente, as Evora. Cape Verde was indeed something of a musical crucible for Bau - hundreds of miles off the coast of West Africa, it was isolated enough to distil criss-crossing African and colonial European influences, particularly the sorrowful Portuguese fado that infuses bossa nova with its wistfulness, into a unique sound - and Bau's father made stringed instruments for a living. Bau has been playing the cavaquinho, a ukulele-like four-stringed guitar, and took his North American and European jazz influences to Evora's band in the mid-'90s, eventually becoming the band's director. Since 1999, Bau has focused on his own music, but with far less compelling results. Blimundo gives ample evidence of his accomplished musicianship and rich, rounded tones, but it's also a relatively clinical take on the music that has enveloped him almost from birth, closer to new age-y muzak than the blood and passion of Evora. In Teofilo Chantre, though, Evora has a worthy male counterpart. As Evora's favourite songwriter, it's tempting to draw the comparison between Chantre and Evora and bossa nova's greatest songwriter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and his most celebrated interpreter, Astrud Gilberto. Chantre's third album, Rodatempo, makes the comparison seem apt, so germane is his voice and languid strumming to bossa nova. But for Chantre, few mid-Atlantic sounds appear to be off-limits. Cuban dancehall sounds, both sophisticated charangas and bittersweet boleros, as well as melodies and rhythms redolent of Mexico, are well within the grasp of his voice, an instrument as richly grained with the slightest reediness to match the sultry sway of his guitar, whether he's strumming samba or plumbing the sorrowful depths of morna (Lusafrica)