When she launched Tanto Tempoand went on tour back in June, Bebel Gilberto heard her first full-length solo album described as the soundtrack of summer. But as the rain rolls into San Francisco and we shrug off daylight savings, Gilberto is still steaming it up on the road. Her evening at Bimbo's a few months back was as sexy a show as that hall has ever held, as the 32-year-old vixen sashayed across the stage with the delight of a girl but the smoldering confidence that only years of experience in the spotlight can bring.
It's a manner she was born to: Being the daughter of the legendary João Gilberto makes Bebel a bit like the Jakob Dylan of Brazil. But like the feisty Wallflower, Bebel has patiently worked her way out of her father's enormous shadow on the strength of her own talent. In fact, the bossa nova diva comes from a constellation of Brazilian music stars: Her mother Miucha and uncle Chico Buarque are well-known musicians in their own right, and they merely begin the list of great artists with whom Gilberto has collaborated since first appearing on one of Miucha's albums at age 7.
But Gilberto is not just parroting a history of bossa nova. A decade in New York and London has shaped her into a well-rounded artist, as has work with musicians as diverse as David Byrne, Kenny G, and Towa Tei. Most recently, working on Tanto Tempowith the late Yugoslavian producer Suba introduced a decidedly contemporary slant into the singer's music; the rhythms are innovative and danceable, and a just-released set of remixes of her own "Sem Contenção" sounds downright DJ-friendly. As her voice drifts languidly from Portuguese to English, with intricate percussion layered beneath, Gilberto sounds like nothing if not today's global woman.