Master Composers: Sabrina Malheiros Brings On Dancing Grooves With “Clareia”

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Image courtesy of my own Personal Collection

First will be the posting in Sabrina’s native Portuguese, followed by the American English translation that you and I can understand:

Um bom amigo deste blog, Sabrina Malheiros está de volta e ela trouxe mais do que apenas seus sapatos de dança favoritos para esta festa.
Em vez de ouvir suas músicas muito calmas e descontraídas de álbuns anteriores, incluindo o meu hino favorito do jazz brasileiro no verão, intitulado “Brisa Mar” (do qual você pode ler mais na minha última entrevista com ela em um dos meus últimos blogs, Apenas fyi)–Este álbum é uma surpresa refrescante.

Lançado para Spotify, Apple Music e outros players de mídia em streaming online em 28 de julho, este CD é simplesmente uma ótima música para uma sexta-feira ou qualquer dia, você sente um pouco exuberante ou quer desfrutar de alguma música divertida e divertida. Para alguns ouvintes de longa data, este álbum pode ressonar algumas memórias quando a mania da discoteca e do boogie tomou parte da década de 1980 no Rio. Para mim como fã leal, esta é definitivamente uma mudança de ritmo refrescante.

Além da faixa-título de Clareia (que simplesmente significa “claro” em português), quatro das cinco primeiras faixas são na sua maioria up-tempo. Não estava no ritmo vertiginoso dos recentes lançamentos de artistas indie pop rock, como Phoenix com “Ti Amo” ou Arcade Fire com seu lançamento de “American Now”, que emocionou milhares de fãs em Lollapalooza em Chicago, mas o álbum mostra Sabrina No seu melhor.

Minhas canções favoritas neste álbum de uma hora incluem Track 1, “Celebrar” (“Para celebrar”) e Track 4 (“Sun Harbour”). Eu até ouvi uma pequena sugestão do “Bim Bom” da Bebel Gilberto na Pista 6, “Sol, Ceu E Mar” (ou simplesmente “Sol, Céu e Mar”).
Música de fundo perfeita para o verão. Definitivamente obtém minha classificação mais alta, cinco estrelas!

Falando em novas músicas, tive recentemente a oportunidade de ouvir dois novos artistas que procuram fazer um nome para eles na batida da MPB. Diga olá ao guitarrista Zanna e cantor e compositor Mallu Magalhaes – uma maravilha de Myspace que recentemente saiu com seu quarto álbum, simplesmente intitulado, Vem (ou simplesmente “Comes”). Vou tentar destacá-los em algum momento nos próximos dias, e se sua programação permitir um pouco de tempo de bate-papo on-line – vou tentar entrevistá-los individualmente.

Aproveite o seu fim de semana e agradeço o seu apoio com o meu blog. Isso significa o mundo para mim.

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A good friend of this blog, Sabrina Malheiros is back and she brought more than just her favorite dancing shoes to this party.
Instead of hearing her very calm and laid-back songs from past albums, including my favorite anthem of Brazilian jazz in summer titled, “Brisa Mar” (of which you can read more in my past interview with her in one of my past blogs, just fyi)–this album is quite a refreshing surprise..

Released to Spotify, Apple Music, and other online streaming media players on July 28, this CD is simply great music for a Friday or any day you feel like getting a bit exuberant or just want to enjoy some fun and playful music. For some longtime listeners, this album may respark some memories when the disco and boogie craze took up much of the 1980’s in Rio.  For me as a loyal fan, this is definitely a refreshing change of pace.

Besides the title track of Clareia (which simply means “clear” in Portuguese), four of the first five tracks are mostly up-tempo. Not at the dizzying pace heard on the recent releases by indie pop rock artists such as Phoenix with “Ti Amo” or Arcade Fire with their danceable release of “American Now” which thrilled thousands of fans at Lollapalooza in Chicago, but the album showcases Sabrina at her best.

My favorite songs on this one hour album include Track 1, “Celebrar” (“To celebrate”) and Track 4, (“Sun Harbor”). I even heard a small hint of Bebel Gilberto’s “Bim Bom” on Track 6, “Sol, Ceu E Mar” (or simply, “Sun, Sky, and Sea”).
Perfect background music for summer.  Definitely gets my highest rating, five stars!

Speaking of new music, I recently got the opportunity to hear two new artists looking to make a name for themselves on the MPB beat. Say hello to budding folk/rock guitarist Zanna and singer-songwriter Mallu Magalhaes–a Myspace wonder who recently came out with her fourth album simply titled, Vem (or simply, “Comes”). I will try to highlight them sometime in the coming days, and if their schedule allows a bit of online chat time–I will try to interview them individually.

Please enjoy your weekend, and thank you for your support with my blog. It means the world to me.

Q & A With Halie Loren Going Through ‘Stages’

Her 2011 intimate studio session was handled with passion and true grace

For the better part of this last decade, this proud Oregon at heart/Alaska by birth singer/songwriter has carved quite a cool niche in the smooth jazz genre.  I was lucky enough to profile Halie Loren a few years back with her outstanding After Dark release, and her studio session is a definite gem of a listen:

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Image courtesy of pricefalls.com

In May, I emailed Halie a cool questionnaire similar to what I sent to many other Brazilian MPB artists ranging from Fabiana Passoni to Monica da Silva and also other individuals such as Lori Carsillo, Sherie Julianne, and Sabrina Malheiros.

Nearly two months later, in the middle of July–Halie kindly replied back to my questionnaire.  I started off this “Q&A” by attempting briefly to jog her mind back to when she was a young girl growing up in a remote Alaska town:

1. Who were your favorite musical inspirations growing up?  Does any one memory (whether it was performing in a play, concert, or just playing with your family as the audience) from your time as a child still stick with you today?

My biggest musical inspirations from my early years were Nat King Cole, Patsy Cline, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah McLachlan, Joni Mitchell, Peggy Lee, Annie Lennox, and Diana Krall, among so many other artists.  I was a voracious music listener from very early in my life.  I began performing in public at age ten, and I remember very vividly my first time performing jazz at that age.  I was attending a camp for music and art called the Sitka Fine Arts Camp (in my hometown of Sitka, Alaska), and I was one of the featured performers for the end-of-camp showcase performance in front of hundreds of my peers.  I was so nervous that I forgot to start singing at the right time!  Luckily the jazz trio musicians were total pros, so they covered well for me and my stage fright.  The experience was terrifying and exhilarating, and gave me confidence that I could make mistakes while performing and it would not mean the end of the world. It is a very good lesson to learn as a young musician!

2. Do you have any memories about living in Sitka, Alaska?  What is that town like–try painting a small picture for us.

I grew up in a small town called Sitka on an island in Southeastern Alaska.  It is a dramatic landscape of giant mountains and endless rainforest wilderness surrounded by an ocean dotted with thousands of other islands.  I grew up surrounded by humpback whales and bald eagles and bears and deer, among many other varieties of wildlife.  I spent countless days on boats, fishing, and swimming in the ocean.  That entire area of Alaska has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  It does rain there almost every single day, which some people might not enjoy so much…it certainly makes the landscape incredibly green and lush, though! The area was originally settled by the Tlingits, an Alaskan Native tribe, and those cultural roots are still very much alive and present in the town’s culture today.  It was also the capital of the Russian-owned land in America before Alaska was purchased by the U.S.A., and there are quite a few sites in the town from that era of the town’s history, including a beautiful Russian orthodox church in the very center of downtown.

Through some brief online image research, I hope this pic brings along a sense of calm and peace in a rather hectic and tulmtuous world we still live in today and in Halie’s case brings a good portion of her childhood back into focus:

 

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Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Back to the rest of the online interview:

3. I found the Stages album to be both interesting and invigorating.  The first point is due to the variety of songs that were played, cover hits from U2 and other popular musicians.  What was it like hearing the crowd reaction after singing, “Cry Me A River” and especially, “The Girl From Ipanema”? 

I have to be honest, but those two versions might have had a different reaction had it just been you and the band recording in some studio.  But having the audience there made it feel like there was a true connection, and that was really nice to hear (for fans reading, think part Diana Krall and part Fabiana Passoni with a small dash of Marcela Mangabeira in the voice).

Every time I’ve performed “Girl from Ipanema”, the crowd reaction is one of delight and recognition of the song.  It is such a beloved tune – even people who don’t really listen to jazz or Brazilian music know that song and have a special kind of love for it.”

4. With a rather hectic schedule, do you have any time at all to relax or do any “girl things”–reading, shopping, cooking, etc.?  Any hobbies that you enjoy doing (in any spare time you might have)?

I most enjoy being out in nature when I have time off.  Since I grew up surrounded by wilderness and ocean, I like to return to these places whenever I can.  I especially love to hike in the forest, swim in rivers, and collect rocks and shells at the beach – I have quite a vast collection of treasures I’ve found while beach-combing!  I’ve always loved reading, and am a big fan of being able to have time to finish a book in two or three days – it’s rare that I’m able to dedicate that much consecutive time to reading, but it’s always very satisfying when I’m able to do that!”

5. When I read your announcement back on January 28, (learn more by tapping or clicking here:  https://bigzbossanovabeat.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/please-pray-for-halie-loren/)…

I felt overall that your words you spoke were pure, honest, and truly heartfelt. All I would like to know is–did you manage to accomplish something very meaningful during your time reconnecting with nature?  And in your own humble opinion, did you manage to return to normal life stronger than ever, both inside and out?

“Seeking the peace of nature certainly helped me calm my mind and ease my sorrow…it usually does.  Nature is a powerful healer.  Sometimes all it takes to return to feeling centered is a short trip to a forest.  I learned that as a little girl, and I still turn to the wilderness for answers in difficult times.”

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Quick little story before I finish this Q&A:
On that same Saturday just a few hours after I posted that blog, I was invited by my mother to join her many co-workers at a major Chinese buffet restaurant in town.  About three hours into the dinner (since we could not pass up going for seconds), I show one older gentleman (who is into gardening vegetables and flowers in his spare time) the pic I posted of Halie walking outside with her eyes closed, but I wanted to make sure that the headline I posted was not in full view of the smartphone screen.

I quickly told him amidst the occasional brief yells of young children celebrating their birthdays a few tables away:  “Here is this nice woman simply enjoying life to the fullest.  She really enjoys making nice jazz music.”  He told me in his excitable voice, “Really?  I will have to look her up!”  I then tapped a few clicks later to show him my past review and he was instantly hooked, but sadly he doesn’t get online that much.

So Halie, at least in one of portion of the Midwest–you have a new virtual fan in your corner.  (Albeit, the weather Oregon normally gets on August 4 was in the opposite direction, as my area in the Midwest was basking in autumn conditions, at the same time most of the northern third of the West Coast was baking in triple digit heat.)

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6. Are you planning to cover any Brazilian jazz, past or present in future shows?

“Brazilian jazz is always a favorite of mine, and I’m sure I will continue to perform songs from this rich tradition for as long as I am able to perform anything at all!  It is intoxicatingly (calm and) lovely music.  I am forever drawn to its rhythms.”

7. Anything else that fans wish to know about what makes your music special, the online floor is yours…

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Image courtesy of antifonies.gr

I’m excited to begin recording a new project this fall…I will be making more announcements about this soon on social media and my website (www.halieloren.com).  I’m so excited to share my brand new music with the world! I’m also currently recording new songs with the band “Halie and The Moon”, and I’m having so much fun with that.  I feel blessed to be able to create so much music that inspires me, and to create it with people that I deeply love and admire. It’s a lucky life indeed!”

Special thank you to Halie being so kind and gracious with her time in answering my questions.  Please continue to have safe travels and great times in places that you go and the people that you meet each time when it is time to perform.

Thank you again for wanting to feature my music.”

Speaking of new music, Sabrina Malheiros released a new album on July 28 and I will look forward to profiling Clareia next week.  Plus, I will highlight one new young artist looking to make a new names for herself with some interesting guitar work and another artist returning with her first new album since 2013.

Please enjoy your weekend and thank you for supporting my blog.

 

 

Master Composers: Gregg Karukas Brings Lots of Groovy Soul

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Image courtesy of amazon.com

With a longtime love of the piano since he was six, Gregg Karukas has enjoyed quite a successful career, primarily dealing with commercial smooth jazz.

After spending five years dabbling in R&B and later as a studio musician in Washington, D.C., he moved to Los Angeles in 1983.  He would become a major player in the pop-jazz genre with the likes of David Benoit, Richard Elliot, Grant Geissman, and Ronnie Laws, to name a few.  Dave Koz impressed him early on with his early version of his specialty on the saxophone and by the mid-’80s, Gregg was an original member of the Rippingtons.

Between 1987 and 2009, he produced a dozen albums.  This album from 2014 covers over 70 minutes and is excellent music to wind down the day (especially great listening for any college student that cannot sleep too easily at night, me being one of them back in the day–and yes, welcome to my newest fan in my former one-time Speech and Music Appreciation professor when I was in school.  Hello and welcome, hope you enjoy reading my blogs).

Teaming up with Brazilian jazz royalty from Sergio Mendes, Dori Caymmi, and Ricardo Silveria–each song has just the right amount of rhythm not to be rushed and more importantly in this day and age–each track sounds just lively enough in case if you were hosting a party and just want your guests to kick off their shoes (or in case for the ladies who happen to be reading, their heels) and relax.

In fact, the only vocals you will hear is on Track 5, “Rio Drive”.  A very effervescent tune, if there was one–I can easily compare it with Les Hommes’ spring break type tune on The Mood Is Modal (of which you can read in one of my past blogs, fyi).  Another nice track that should be on your jazz playlist should be Track 9, “Secret Smile”–a very laid back and soothing mix of Vincent Ingala on sax and Michael O’Neill on guitar.

No wonder Gregg Karukas is more than just a talented musician–he also had the time to work also as a freelance producer, in addition to being featured as a sideman on albums by smooth jazz greats in Peter White, Boney James, and Craig Chaquico.

Hopefully, with the American firecracker holiday of Independence Day done for another year…it will be interesting to see what album I will review next.
Please check back next week, and tell your friends who might be interested in checking out the most relaxing music this side of the Equator.

Thirty (that’s 3-oh to you and me) other people have been convinced, so why not join in on the fun?  See you all next week and may you all have pleasant dreams.

 

 

Artist Worth Checking Out: Two-fer with the Sade of Brazilian Jazz, Ive Mendes

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Images courtesy of plaxid.com (above) and lusotunes.blogspot.com (below)

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Born in Ceres, Brazil, Ive Mendes spent her childhood years on her parent’s farm.  She spent seven years teaching creative art and music before deciding to give it up and move on to creating music.

Ive would relocate to England in 1999, this before having suffered tragic losses with the loss of her older brother when he was kidnapped in Brazil along with a great musical friend Mark Smith two months after her first solo effort garnered double Platinum status when sales started in Poland of all places.

When you hear her sing one of Chicago’s big hits, “If You Leave Me Now”, you will probably hear a small bit of the familiar voice of Fabiana Passoni sprinkled in.  Again, this is just an observation I gained after listening to the album for the first time.

The dual CD came out eleven years later in 2010.  The true romantic vibes and references to Sade and Bebel Gilberto definitely rang true with songs ranging from, “Yellow”, “Letting You Go”, “I Don’t Wanna Know”, and “The Life That I Have” on the first disk.  The second disk continues the true laid-back themes with songs like “Estrada”, “Never Felt Love Like This”, “Beauty of the Blues” and “Around The Sun.”

These three disks are also nice background music if your lover wishes to stick around after serving dinner and dessert.  I found that every song is a very cool and easy listen.  Both of her albums should be also available for streaming over your favorite mobile device.

Later this week, I plan to profile an artist that I first heard about in December 2016 but did not get around to it in time due to the Christmas holiday period.  Look for a review on Gregg Karukas sometime later this week.

Hope to see you then.

 

Master Composers: Rique Pantoja Teaming Up With Ernie Watts

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Image courtesy of jazzagusels.blogspot.com

Just in time for Mother’s Day, add this mellow and laid-back album to your brunch or dinner plans.

The music has true New Age flavor, coming out in 1989 during the last great run in smooth jazz before more vocal hits dominated on radio stations worldwide.

Not much in terms of biography information about Rique Pantoja is found online, but Ernie Watts had quite a career.  Born on October 23, 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia, he continues to make his mark using the flute, clarinet, and the saxophone as his instruments in choice.  For a time, he also toured with The Rolling Stones.  He has full credit on 20 different albums dating as far back as 1969 with Planet Love.  That list does not even count his 50 other times collaborating with famous artists such as Carole King in 1971 and Marvin Gaye two years later in 1973.

In my album Pick of the Week, the two collaborated on a nice, mellow effort blending in many different harmonies and styles.  With Pantoja running things with the keyboard, Watts on the tenor sax, Jurim Moreira on drums, and Armando Pacal on percussion, the result is a relaxing listen from start to finish.  My favorite tracks are the first and the last, “Morena” and “DX Samba” (in fact, for you Wheel of Fortune fans, five of the seven tracks all end in a vowel).

The liner notes briefly indicated that the album was recorded at Nos Nuvens sometime in 1986 in Rio.  The pace is very calm and laid-back.  It got me thinking that this album is one of a handful that almost gets you on the verge of feeling a bit sleepy (not that one doesn’t mind with all of the hectic things going in our world these days).

Nevertheless, it is available in physical CD online and should be accessible on most streaming media players.

Next week, I will dive head first into the albums that I was hoping to do late in April–but there is this complex thing called life that got in the way.

Look for a neat, tidy review featuring the “Sade of Brazil”, Ive Mendes sometime next week.

To all of the mothers, especially my mom who has given me lots of cool vocal support to this blog over the years along with devoted fan Fabiana Passoni, I wish both of them and others in Brazilian jazz circles a happy and fun Mother’s Day.

Artist Worth Checking Out: Cris Braun

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Main part of album cover image courtesy of musicabrasileira.org

Recorded between August 2003 and June 2004, the second release of Atemporal by Rio born Cris Braun is a nice weekend album to kick back and relax–or in the case of preparing for any holiday party, something to unwind to after a lot of cooking and cleaning.  According to the Allmusic.com site, Braun moved to Maceió in the 1970’s where she learned to play the guitar and gained the chance to have singing lessons.  She began performing in shows in 1985, such as in Rio’s Mistura Fina nightclub after spending many years practicing keyboarding, percussion, and other composition techniques.  Her first album, Cuidado Com Pessoas Como Eu was released in 1997.

My album pick of the week was released in 2005.  Clocking in at nearly 35 minutes in length, this is a nicely packed treat with many laid-back and calm songs.  From the opening track, “Entre O Ceu E A Terra” (translated meaning, “Between Heaven and Earth” to the stylish middle Track 5, “Tudo Pode” (or “Everyone Can”)–there is something nice for everyone.

There is also one song in English, Track 8 with the slow, “Drum and Bass Is Past.”

Overall, this is an excellent album worth checking out.  Available on Amazon and for streaming on most online streaming media players.

Next week, I will dive into the works of a woman known by many in the media on both sides of the Equator as simply, “The Brazilian Sade.”

Speaking of which, if you are interested in looking back at a Brazilian jazz artist such as Gervaso Silva doing a cool take on many of Sade’s classic 1980’s hits such as one of my all-time favorite jazz songs in “Smooth Operator”, along with “Kiss of Life”, and “Hang On To Your Love”, simply tap or click on the link to my blog post from February 2016 below:

https://bigzbossanovabeat.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/artist-worth-checking-out-gervaso-silva-goes-bossa-part-one/

Please have a safe and happy Easter holiday weekend.

Saluting the 2017 Marco Loucura Brazilian Fun Jazz Champion, Michael Franks

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Image courtesy of katastrofalaomslag.blogspot.com

By the fall of 1983, Michael Franks had burst off the charts both in jazz and in pop rock.  This was his seventh studio album, produced by Warner Brothers.

Many of the songs are great to relax to, or have as background music if you are either entertaining friends or baking.

Among the most recognizable hits include the opening track, “Alone At Night”, the Atari and arcade game funny tune paying homage to Space Invaders and Donkey Kong with, “Now That Your Joystick’s Broke”, and the hit single, “Tell Me All About It” on Track 8.

Clocking in at just under 45 minutes, it is a very cool listen.  And just like when North Carolina made the big plays late on Monday night against Gonzaga, Michael Franks is definitely a deserving virtual Brazilian Fun Jazz Champion for 2017.

Back to my regular blogs later in the week.

(Sorry, no extra photos.)