Toninho Horta – Belo Horizonte

A fantastic return to form for the legendary Toninho Horta – the Brazilian singer and guitarist who first rose to fame in the company of Milton Nascimento at the start of the 70s – then created a tremendous musical legacy of his own! This double-length set has Horta working in some great jazzy territory – that spacious, soulful style that marked all the members of Nascimento’s “corner club” from Minas Geraes – an approach that seems to embrace elements of fusion and progressive styles, but give them a warmer, more soulful Brazilian setting – all while never losing any of the sophistication of their inspirations. The set features guest work from Joyce, Joao Bosco, and Lisa Ono – and the group also features Robertinho Silva on percussion, William Galison on harmonica, and Nivaldo Ornelas on tenor sax. Titles include “Dieb”, “O Poder De Um Olhar”, “Saguin”, “Durango Kid”, “Paris”, “Samba Sagrado”, “Aqui O”, “Belo Horizonte”, “Ceu De Brasilia”, and “Meu Canario Vizinho Azul”.  © 1996-2020, Dusty Groove,...

Sergio Mendes

At 78, Brazilian-born pianist, composer, and arranger Sérgio Mendes just might be ready for his closeup. Don’t get me wrong; Mendes has been a face for the breezily sophisticated sounds of Brazil ever since he departed from his mentor Antônio Carlos Jobim and brought jazzy bossa nova into 1960s AM radio-pop prominence. If you’re older than a minute, you’ll remember that there was once no medium where you couldn’t see Mendes’ big eyes and snazzy suits as he played beside the members of his Brasil ’66 ensemble (including Lani Hall, an airily cooing vocalist who became Herb Alpert’s wife), or hear his smoothly ethnic rhythms and chord changes—the cosmopolitan equivalent of Bacharach, Brian Wilson, and the Beatles. And beyond the ’60s, Mendes continued to make his mark, particularly with the pop-culture ubiquity of his breakthrough hit “Mas Que Nada,” the neo-soul/hip-hop-filled Timeless of 2006, and a 2012 Best Song Oscar nom for “Real in Rio” from the animated film Rio. Still, In the Key of Joy, a fresh documentary from director John Scheinfeld (Chasing Trane), brings the savvy Mendes into current focus, as does a double album of the same name. While the package’s second disc features radio-friendly Brasil ’66 hits of yore such as “The Look of Love” and “The Frog,” its first disc is all new, and keenly nuanced, even as its overall tone will feel familiar to Men It gets off to a weird start, though, as “Sabor Do Rio” and the collection’s title tune host oddly rigid Chicago rappers Common and Buddy (respectively). Perhaps welcoming MCs whose voices were more fluid and whose lyrics felt fresher would’ve allowed these songs a freer vibe. Yet the basis of each track’s buoyancy, its merry carnival mien, stems from literal bells and whistles, to say nothing of an undulating indigenous percussive roll and the plush choral blend of female voices that’s made Mendes famous. The squeak of the cuíca that nestled below the groove of “Sabor...

Antonio Carlos Jobim – Endito

As a celebration of “Tom” Jobim‘s 60th birthday in 1987, a Brazilian consort simply called the Organization sponsored an album that anthologized his output as a composer. Jobim made the final choices of 24 tunes, recorded them with his band of family and friends, and the results were released privately in a limited edition. Recorded at around the same time as Passarim, it’s possible that Jobimdid not want this retrospective to compete with his new material. Not until 1995 did the Brazilian arm of BMG put out a commercial edition of this project in a very handsome two-CD box with a beautifully illustrated 38-page color booklet (alas, the contents could have been easily squeezed onto only one CD). It’s far from a casual project, obviously carefully rehearsed and polished; rather it’s an intimate one, using a minimum of resources, backed only by Jobim‘s simply-stated piano on several tracks. There is the expected quota of greatest hits like “Desafinado,” “One Note Samba,” “Chega de Saudades,” and “Wave,” yet the bulk of the material is not very familiar, often dispatched in to-the-point slices that sometimes clock in at less than two minutes. Jobim also takes a personal flyer by including his countryman Heitor Villa-Lobos‘ haunting “Seresta No. 5,” with just himself on piano backing Danilo Caymmi‘s vocal, followed by his own “Modinha.” Jaques Morelenbaum provides the occasional string arrangements and cello solos, again keeping things uncluttered and decidedly less ambitious than Claus Ogerman‘s charts on a previous Jobim retrospective, Terra Brasilis. Sometimes the arrangements are unpredictable; “The Girl From Ipanema” omits the words of the first chorus, picking up the thread on the bridge, and the stunning “Estrada do Sol” shifts gears several times. The feeling of saudade is very much front and center on Jobim‘s birthday present to himself — he later said that this was his favorite album — and all of his connoisseurs should try to hunt it down in the import bins.  Also available...

BOSSANAIRE – HOLIDAY

This is the second offering from the talented Portland based jazz vocal group.   Bossanaire artfully mines the rich tradition of bossa nova popularized  by Jobim, Sergio Mendes  and Gilberto/Getz.  Don’t be fooled by the title of their latest release. It is not a seasonal/Christmas album.  It is a wonderfully conceived and performed set of original material that will transport you to the warmth, sun and sand of whatever beach fantasy you might...

Bossanaire – Holiday

This is the second offering from the talented Portland based jazz vocal group.   Bossanaire artfully mines the rich tradition of bossa nova popularized  by Jobim, Sergio Mendes  and Gilberto/Getz.  Don’t be fooled by the title of their latest release. It is not a seasonal/Christmas album.  It is a wonderfully conceived and performed set of original material that will transport you to the warmth, sun and sand of whatever beach fantasy you might...

Bossa Renova Trio – Samba Preludio

Samba Prelúdio” is a transatlantic song cycle that merges ‘Lieder’ in the European classical tradition with repertoire from Brazil that is or has become ‘classic’. All arrangements have been tailored to the multicultural musical origins of bossarenova trio’s members: the timelessly beautiful voice of Paula Morelenbaum, the warm trumpet-playing and grooving vocal percussion by Joo Kraus, and the electronically coloured grand piano by Ralf Schmid. “Melodia Sentimentale” by Brazil’s classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos opens up the album with the trio’s ‘signature sound’: Paula Morelenbaum’s melancholic voice line floats over a delicate piano accompaniment enhanced by pulsating electronics. Joo Kraus supports with beatbox elements and a lyrical solo on morphed trumpet. The second song is a true premiere: “Prelude op. 28 No. 4” by Frédéric Chopin and “Insensatez” by Antonio Carlos Jobim have often been played in conjunction with each other to emphasize their obvious relationship. In Ralf Schmid’s sophisticated arrangement these two songs are performed simultaneously: Voice, trumpet and piano travel between Chopin’s and Jobim’s textures, bringing music traditions from Europe and Brazil together in one song. In the polyphonic Baden Powell composition “Samba em Prelúdio” the music becomes more and more beat-oriented. The urban-electro-coloured sound of “Samba da minha Terra” and the Jobim classic “O morro não tem vez” is achieved via samba percussion (by guest percussionist Marcelo Costa), John Cage-like effects inside Ralf Schmid’s piano, and a driving rap by Joo Kraus. “Ständchen” by Franz Schubert and the last track on the album, “Clara/Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” by Robert Schumann, are sung in Portuguese. The lyrics were written exclusively for Paula Morelenbaum by Artur Nestrovski, a native Brazilian who states: “The lyrics in Portuguese are closely aligned to the original version in German, but recreated in the manner of Brazilian songs, always very close to everyday speech.” After the Brazilian standard “Samba de verão” displaying Joo Kraus’s...

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