Made In Brazil – Elaine Elias

It has been almost 35 years since pianist/singer/songwriter Eliane Elias moved from her homeland in Brazil to New York City She quickly began making waves as the pianist in the jazz fusion powerhouse band Steps Ahead, which included the late, great tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker. After a joint album with Randy Brecker, she began recording solo albums in the mid 80s and has been a prolific recording artist ever since. Most of her albums are on the Blue Note label, but she recently moved over to Concord. As the title suggests, she went back to her roots and recorded this album in her hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. While she took along her husband, bassist Marc Johnson (who has been on most of her albums), she hired some top Brazilian musicians for the session. Johnson plays bass on half of the songs, while Marcelo Mariano plays electric bass on the others. Also on the album is the multi-Grammy winning Christian vocal group Take 6, appearing for only one track, and their lead vocalist Mark Kibble sings on two others. Brazilian R&B star Ed Motta is on another. Elias and her singer/pianist/daughter Amanda team up for a duet on “Some Enchanted Night,” and she pairs up with Marc Johnson for a duet on “A Sorte do Amor.” Seven of the 12 cuts include orchestral arrangements which were later overdubbed at Abbey Road Studios, performed by members if the London Symphonic Orchestra. But they are perfectly done and never detract from the music – note how things cook along just nicely over the strings on “Voce.” From the opening moments of “Brasil,” a famous Brazilian ‘anthem’ from 1939, to the closing moments of “No Tabuleiro da Baiana,” we are all treated to a top shelf program of infectious music from Brazil, much of it permeated with a definite sexiness the likes...

Thievery Corporation “Saudade”

Every language has words and phrases that elude easy translation. In Portuguese, “saudade” (pronounced by Brazilians as “sow-DAH-djee”) is one of those. Some musicians equate it with the blues; it’s generally associated with melancholy and longing. In its most recent bio, the Washington, D.C., electronic duo Thievery Corporation defines it as “a longing for something or someone that is lost.” Though countless songs have “saudade” in the title, the condition of saudade isn’t usually conveyed through words. It’s evoked. Its wistfulness radiates through every element of the music — from the sound Joao Gilberto makes humming that iconic introduction to “The Girl From Ipanema” to the yearning melody itself to the precise chop of the rhythm guitar behind the voice. You can’t just order up saudade. There’s no setting for it on a drum machine; no software emulation available. It comes seeping through the music, between the notes, as delicate and evanescent as a May breeze. Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton and Rob Garza offer a vibey, transfixingly contemporary take on saudade with Saudade, their seventh full-length album. Since 1996’s Songs From the Thievery Hi-Fi, which was dedicated to composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, Thievery has explored every square foot of the intersection where bossa nova and electronic sample manipulation meet. The duo has been praised for its sleek acid-jazz dream sequences and frenetic rhythm programming. It’s delivered thick instrumental collages dotted with random curio-drawer samples, and also original songs that emphasize live vocals. (The 2000 gem Mirror Conspiracy includes a cameo by the similarly inclined Bebel Gilberto.) The new work is quite possibly the most traditional Thievery release yet: Most of its 13 songs are tightly structured verse-chorus endeavors, with contemplative vocals set against sophisticated chord sequences and minimal acoustic-electric backdrops. In contrast to what often grabs attention in electronic dance music, it’s calm, serene, uncluttered and defiantly warm. As...

The Beatles Nova

So many artists have covered Beatles tunes in so many ways that one might wonder why anyone would bother anymore. What possibly could there be left to say in this music? Undeterred, Chicago jazz musicians Paulinho Garcia and Grazyna Auguscik have taken on some of the most familiar works in the Beatles catalog on an appealing new album, “The Beatles Nova.” Their perspective on this repertoire sounds as fresh as the recording’s title implies, the musicians reiterating the point Thursday night at Katerina’s. Audiences in Chicago – and well beyond – already know that the Brazilian-born Garcia brings a seductive rhythmic lilt to nearly everything he sings (and plays on guitar). Auguscik, meanwhile, applies the fervent lyricism of music of her native Poland to a broad range of repertoire. Over the years, Garcia and Auguscik have formed a partnership unique in contemporary music, two voices from distinct cultures coming together in the precincts of Chicago jazz. With each season, their instruments blend a little more closely, and on Thursday night dual voices merged almost as one. Better still, Garcia’s arrangements transformed the Beatles originals and, in many ways, improved upon them. The familiarity of these songs have made them classics, but Garcia’s versions extend their chordal vocabulary far beyond anything the Beatles attempted. Here is Beatles music enriched with the sophistication of jazz harmony, the seductive sway of Brazilian rhythm and other variables. During their first set at Katerina’s, Garcia and Auguscik re-conceived every Beatles tune they touched, leaving enough of the original to render the music recognizable, but altering enough to keep matters interesting. In “Hey Jude,” for instance, Garcia re-imagined the famous melody line from the outset, meanwhile re-harmonizing it, as well. Yet the overall contour of the song remained, a Beatles standard deftly reconfigured for jazz sensibilities. The subtlety of the endeavor showed respect for the...

Masha Campagne – Like Water, LIke Air

With the long anticipated 2012 sophomore release Like Water, Like Air Campagne’s fresh and sincere voice is bound to reach new levels of recognition. Co-produced with her long-time musical partner Iago it indicates the arrival of a singular artist with unparalleled grace, vision and maturity. More importantly, it marks the recording debut of Campagne as a songwriter. Four impressive originals reflect a thoughtful attention to detail, both in the heartfelt lyrics and in smart, compelling arrangements. Adding to that are exciting collaborations with the prodigious Brazilian guitarist/composer Guinga and German harmonica and vibraphone virtuoso Hendrik Meurkens – the results are sensual, sparkling, and sure. Like Water, Like Air – Featuring: Guinga, Hendrik Meurkens, Weber Iago “He was the effortless choice for me as a co-producer,” says Masha Campagne about working with longtime friend and collaborator Weber Iago. And on Like Water, Like Air, her second full-length collaboration with Iago, the partnership could hardly feel more organic. Together, they leave an unmistakable stamp on the album’s 11 fabulous songs—some standards, some yet to be—which place the chanteuse fronting a roster of bold talents. Standing out among these is guitarist/composer Guinga, a strong mentor and friend since 2005, whose skillful fingers wield both strings and pen in two songs of his own design. Of Guinga, Campagne remarks; “His eternally beautiful music that draws on a range of inspirations, from the European classical tradition to great American composers echoes deeply in the recesses of my Slavic soul.” Adding liquid gold to the pot is German harmonica and vibraphone master Hendrik Meurkens, a musician Campagne had long admired from afar. “Harmonica is one of my favorite jazz instruments,” Campagne recalls. “Hendrik’s fiery, original solos and intense lyricism stayed with me since I first heard him in 2000.” Bassist Dan Robbins, drummer Jason Lewis, multi-reed player Harvey Wainapel, guitarist Jeff Buenz, and percussionists Michael...

Carol Saboya -The Music of Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento

It has always been a musical environment. Carol Saboya, the composer Antônio Adolfo’s daughter, was raised surrounded by inspired chords, scribbled scores and songs being born: The art in its full creation process. She spent three years studying singing in the United States, taking part in Sérgio Mendes’ Brasileiro CD. After returning to Brazil, she made a recording with the North American pianist Joyce Collins and participated in a tribute to Aldir Blanc, who was moved to listen to Carol featuring the song Carta de pedraat Canecão. The girl with that sweet voice and impeccable tuning started getting the media’s attention. Carol’s expected solo work came in 1998. Dança da voz, produced by Almir Chediak, awarded Carol the 1998’s as new vocalist by “Prêmio Sharp”. On the following year, she jumped into Tom Jobim’s work and recorded the album Janelas abertas, accompanied by Nelson Faria’s guitar. In 2000, it is time to make a collective unconscious visit with the cinematographic repertoire of Sessão Passatempo. In the same year, she featured Imaginária by Suely Mesquita and Mário Sève in the Brazilian Music Festival (Festival da Música Brasileira) promoted by ‘TV Globo’. The next album, Presente(2003), recovers the first album’s sophisticated and successful mix of popular and traditional music. Two years after, a new CD was released: Antonio Adolfo e Carol Saboya ao vivo/live , wich was recorded in Festival Miami. In 2008 another CD, Chão aberto, focusing on songs by brazilian young talent Mário Sève. In 2010, once again an album with Antonio Adolfo (Lá e Cá/Here and There). Mixing Brazilian and American standards by some of the most inspired composers, such as Jobim and Cole Prter. For the first time, in 2012, a solo album released in the US, the CD Belezas – The Music of Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento. Produced and arranged by Antonio Adolfo, with a...

Diana Panton “To Brazil With Love”

“To Brazil With Love” from vocalist/composer Diana Panton is a perfect jewel of a CD. Each delightful track is an exquisitely manicured musical facet, set firmly in the Brazilian idiom and seamlessly sung in French and English by Panton. Her diaphanous vocal sound never insists and her high speed vibrato is like the beat of a hummingbird’s heart – natural, untainted and pure. The Brazilian-infused material is an eclectic mix, including compositions from Panton, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Paul McCartney (check out the moving interpretation of And I Love Her/Him featuring Don Thompson on piano rendering chord changes that never entered McCartney’s mind). On the recording, Panton has cleverly surrounded herself with superb musicians – including multi-instrumentalist and producer Thompson on bass, piano and vibes. Guitarist Reg Schwager makes a stellar contribution with his exquisite solos, as does flautist Bill McBirnie. The rich, sonorous linear lines of Kiki Misumi’s cello also enhance the arrangements. Highlights include Panton’s Is it Really You, Samba Saravah (from the 1966 film A Man and a Woman, with authentic vocal and percussion from Maninho Costa), Jobim’s So Nice replete with a lovely, breezy vocal and a take on the 1963 Bobby Vee hit, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes – demonstrating that Diana Paton certainly knows her way around a standard, Brazilian or otherwise. This is a stunning recording on all levels, and we should all look forward to more from the lovely Ms. Panton. Written by Lesley...

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