The music venue Tom Jazz is a well-known intimate jazz venue in Consolação, Sao Paulo, also catering for the up-market crowd for private parties and serving as a platform for the launch of new projects. Last night gamine Italian Brasilian chanteuse Mafalda Minnozzi was there for the second night of a two-date launch of her new CD.

Launching her new CD Spritz

She is not merely a singer but a very engaging performer with a strong stage persona, and an amusing line in monologues about the attractions of Rome and of Italy. She makes good use of what used to be called feminine wiles to flirt with and to amuse her excellent band, and her audience. They enjoy her eccentric delivery and her repartee, they are mesmerised by her singing, they sing along on demand and they volunteer enthusiastically for audience participation.

She had fun with Annibale from the audience

Minnozzi has a strong voice. She’s a ‘belter’ when she wants to be but she can use the lighter, more fey end of her register too with a sound reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper from the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun phase. Her cultural references are from La Dolce Vita of the 1950s and 60s – her dress sense, her repertoire, her musical idol Ennio Morricone. She sings Portuguese and Italian with equal ease. If you’ve seen the film of The Talented Mr Ripley with Jude Law, you’ll understand her milieu well, including her rendition of Tu Vuo’ Fa l’Americano.

Given the huge Italian influence, Brasil is a natural home-from-home for her. She has performed regularly in Brasil since the late 1990s, including for Globo’s telenovella soundtracks, and with Brasilian greats Paulo Moura, Martinho da Vila and Chico Buarque. Her audience knows her lyrics well. She can also call on more sombre repertoire, with songs in a Brecht and Weill vein. She has something of Piaf’s catch in the voice too.

Minnozzi uses face, gesture and posture with abandon in her delivery

Tom Jazz has a configuration similar to that of Sampa jazz club Bourbon Street – a long narrow space with small tables for light dining, a stage at one end, a mezzanine balcony upstairs with more tables and a bar, and a high-quality sound and lights set-up. The four-piece band is tight and sweet, the repertoire easy Italian and Brasilian MOR.

Minnozzi surprised me last night with a cover of the 1966 Dusty Springfield hit You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me; I discover it was a hit in Italian first, the previous year. Here’s the official video of her October 2011 hit Con un Sorriso (With a Smile) in Italian; she also issued a Portuguese version for her Brasilian audience. Truly an international star.