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SFJAZZ: Mariza 

When: Sat., May 2, 8 p.m. 2009
Price: $26-$76

Portuguese fadoballads are the rough equivalent of American torch songs, in terms of their bluesy sensibility and the pathos they shore up. But the fadois a lot older, dating back at least to the 19th century. At its purest, it sounds like a folk form: Arabic melodies, African rhythms, lyrics about poverty or that mourn a lost love. Few contemporary singers have managed to balance these elements with quite the elegance of Mariza, the half-Portuguese, half-Mozambiquian diva who helped revive the genre with her 2001 album FadoemMim, a couple years after the death of fadoqueen AmáliaRodrigues. Mariza achieved precipitous success in the pop realm and won a Latin Grammy in 2008, but retained her street cred among jazz and folk musicians. With a repertoire that errs on the traditional side, and a voice that harks back to balladeers of decades past, it's no surprise she's become fado's new torchbearer. Mariza performs at Oakland's Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway) on Saturday, May 2. 8 p.m., $24-$75

— Rachel Swan


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