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Artists Worth Checking Out: Ana Clara

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Image courtesy of soundcloud.com

Not to confuse her with the adult film star of the same name, Ana Clara has made quite a splash in the niche that is Brazilian jazz.

Sadly, I was not able to locate any bio on her.  However, after watching her lovely music videos for songs from “Sonho De Amor” (translated meaning, “Love Dream”) and “O Que E Que Tem” (“What’s The Matter?”), plus her B&W number, “Essa So Eu” (“This Is Me”), the future is definitely bright for her.

She has a page on YouTube with over 30,000 followers.

Next week will be my final blog for 2017 and it will feature the works of Debora Cidrack.  Her cover to a once popular 1990’s song by the rock group Ace of Base will probably make your head spin a few times after hearing this cover version.

See you all next week.  In the meantime, please continue to pray that everyone in Southern California is safe and sound after all of the raging wildfires that dominated most of the coastline and surrounding mountain areas for the better part of the last two weeks.

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Artists Worth Checking Out: Liz Menezes

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Image courtesy of cdbaby.com

Liz Menezes began singing by the age of ten when she was a part of a choir ensemble at a local church.  She also took up writing at an early age, of which most of her poetry would later translate into music.

 

According to the website Reverb Nation, it mentioned that she worked with the record label Albatroz Music–first as an independent artist as part of a two year stay in Rio.  Between 2007 and 2013, her star continued upward by winning online competitions and also appearing in magazines such as People Espanol, Boom, and El Barrio Latino Magazines.

In 2014, she released her first album Dejame (translated meaning, “Let Me”) and the following year, the EP Capitulo 2 (“Chapter 2”) was released.  Available also on YouTube and Spotify, these songs bring a cool but upbeat factor.  The CD can be purchased via Digipak.  All five songs sound really nice, but the ones not to miss are Track 2, “Aquella” and Track 5, “Estebas”.

This budding artist has been doing it for a number of years, but my next quartet of Rising Stars are just that.

During the first two weeks of December leading up to Christmas, I will be profiling the new artists that burst onto the Brazilian jazz scene in 2017.

First up, will be Ana Clara and finally, look for a nice feature on Debora Cidrack.

Enjoy the rest of your week, everybody.

Master Composers: Paulinho Nogueira Gave Us True Reflections

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Image courtesy of amazon.com

Not influenced by jazz in the traditional sense, Paulo Arthur Mendes Pupo Nogueira definitely knew how to strike the right balance.  Forty years after releasing his first album for CBS Records in 1959, he came out with Reflexoes (or simply “Reflections”).

Very calm and laid back in tone, the approach is just right for your Thanksgiving tradition of breaking bread and wish bones and in my case, making the right tasting cranberry sauce that can feed more than a crowd if given advanced notice.

Songs like “Bachianinha #1” (Track 3) and “Zelao” (or “Jealousy” on Track 4 give off very soft vibes.  Combining hints of percussion with the guitar, his use of the earliest instruments like the violao made him an instant hit.  He would later produce a pair of Chico Buarque tribute CD’s before suffering a heart attack at his home in Sao Paolo on August 2, 2003.

The album runs about an hour in length and is available both for purchase on physical CD at sites like Amazon, eBay, and ImportCDs.com and should also be available for instant streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.

For all of my American friends like Fabiana Passoni, Monica da Silva, Sherie Julianne, Bianca Rossini, and Halie Loren–I would like to wish everyone in the United States a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

It’s that Gobble Gobble, Crunch Crunch Time of the year:).

No matter how you plan to celebrate, please try to make it festive and fun.

I will be back again next week with a short EP review from Liz Menezes.   Please take care, everybody.

Artists Worth Checking Out: Rock Beat Persists With Fernanda Abreu

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Image courtesy of coveralia.com

No relation to Chicago White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Jose Abreu, Fernanda Abreu was born on September 8, 1961 in the South Zone popular tourist area of Rio that included Copacabana.

Raised in a middle class family, she started out as a backing vocal in 1986 under the group Blitz.  Four years later, she began her solo career specializing in funk, dance, and disco music.

My profile this week is her sixth album, Amor Geral (translated meaning, “General Love”).  Many of her black and white poses inside the liner notes instantly think of Madonna during her 1980’s heyday.  The first image you see next to the CD is a bit too racy IMHO to post in this blog, but the rest of the images inside the booklet are really cool.

Although her earlier works sold upwards of 400,000 copies in Brazil (for her second album, SLA 2 Be Sample in April 1992), I thought this album should have gotten more credit than its’ initial press play.  Her page on Wikipedia states that only 10,000 physical CD’s were sold in its’ initial run.

Most of the songs are great for partying, especially the first track of “Outro Sim” (“Other Yes”) and Track 4, “Sober Chegar” (or “I’m Arriving”).

For most of us stuck in the first grips of Old Man Winter, I would recommend checking out Tracks 6, 7, and 9.  The pace is subtle and not rushed throughout.  For this married mother of two kids, it will be interesting to see where her career goes next.

A very timely album by Paulinho Nogueira will be my next entry.

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner in the United States makes me think of one thing in this very tense time in our world around us–to reflect:

Reflect on how fortunate we are to be alive, and still believe the world will be better than we first got involved, and reflect on many enduring values our families and friends left behind before they all left us to that ultimate sky box up above called heaven.

Did you know…that even with all of the success the late Hugh M. Hefner had with founding Playboy magazine in 1953 and stayed with it (throughout many good times and bad) until his passing on September 27, 2017–he helped change the world in so many ways:

Through breaking barriers first with the groundbreaking TV show Playboy’s Penthouse and later with Playboy After Dark, he helped greatly in civil rights.  Inbetween that time, he published his long form essays titled “The Playboy Philosophy” in giving many American men plenty of things to think about.  He told the masses on what the proper ways for men to approach women, while hopefully helping give them a platform they could thrive and excel in (and not just by how they take their clothes off for the masses).

He even helped save the famous Hollywood sign from becoming extinct, or worse.  Even after being divorced twice in his life, he took the time to simply have fun–whether with his guy friends on Monday nights playing gin rummy or when possible cuddling up with some Playmates and other “Girls Next Door” while watching Casablanca and other classic films from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  By the time E! ran their very popular series which ran for five years in the late 2000’s–Hef’s legend grew by gigantic leaps and bounds.

One must wonder going forward what Cooper Hefner will make what type of changes concerning the magazine’s future.  Personally, I don’t know what direction the magazine will take in 2018 and beyond.

All I know is this…what an impact Hef left behind.

Some people were left with pipes, but I am sure they reserved a red silk robe in heaven instead.

That is what I will be thinking about a bit this Thanksgiving holiday.

See you all early next week with my brief review on Reflexoes.

Happy Fifth Anniversary To My Blog

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What great memories I have had the pleasure in sharing, thanks to many talented artists for making it happen:)

On November 14, 2012 I began this blog with the following words:

“Since the spring of 2008, I have thoroughly enjoyed (hearing) the cool sambas along with the really inviting bossa novas originating from Brazil.

I hope to use these blogs in mentioning about what forms of jazz from this popular South American nation (through many periodic album covers and classic YouTube clips from time to time) have either left their mark on history or to highlight up-and-coming artists that are definitely looking for more than just their pictures on random web search engines. I will either be focusing on an entire album or sometimes an individual track that I hope can inspire people to doing further learning on your own time.”

Several hundred entries later and having enough album reviews to fill an entire shelf, all I can truly say is that I am humbled, very grateful, and fortunate enough to enjoy doing this as one of my very special hobbies.

And for that, I decided to insert the image above as a small token of my appreciation.  Words alone cannot convey how special it has been hearing from many talented artists that I have interviewed and ones that I am looking forward to either interviewing again if new albums are released or for that new up-and-coming artist looking to spread a message–whether it is about coming together, love, friendship, true understanding of the world around us, or whatever makes us happy to be alive.

It has been real, and it has been fun at the same time.

Even when times have been rough for me otherwise online and offline, I could always come back and hit <Play> every week when I get the chance to savor some of the most relaxing and calm music this side of the Equator.  From the true pioneers that made bossa nova in the dramatic changing times of the 1960’s to the ever-growing wave of female musicians who are doing more than just putting their collective heels on.  They are carving out and writing their own musical chapters, each doing it with passion and grace that makes every artist sound truly unique.

My rants about Rio’s lack of preparedness heading into the 2016 Olympics aside, I hope I have made your days or nights go by a little more smoothly than when you woke up with your favorite station as your alarm and sipping into that hot cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Thank you to the many artists that I have had the pleasure of interviewing online.  I look forward to continuing my popular Q&A series in future blogs.

At the very least, I have enough albums in my library–even with the expanding plethora of more artists filing their works on popular online streaming players in the likes of Spotify, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud, to hopefully continue doing at least one album review a week until this decade is out.

Looking ahead…there won’t be too many vintage artists left to cover.  Names like Sylvia Telles, Jair Rodrigues, Pery Ribeiro, Aloysio de Oliveira, Jorge Ben, and if my ears can stand it–the drumlike precision of the Milton Banana Trio.  I hope to also track down the likes of Quarteto Em Cy, Leny Andrade, Marilia Medalha, and Claudette Soares to complete a majority of the “Master Composers” series.

In terms of current artists, one name I have been itching to cover is Liz Rosa.  I often hear her music, but I am hoping she could be a welcome addition to this blog come 2018.

With Halie Loren poised to soon join a select club in producing double digit albums, she has definitely earned more than her stripes after surviving and thriving in her first ever Kickstarter campaign.  Even with her consistent but always fun email posts, that album is scheduled for a spring 2018 release.

At least, you won’t have to wait that long for what will be coming next in this blog.

Come December, instead of the usual festive yuletide holiday mixes which some of you have probably heard a thousand times before…

Get used to these names that burst onto the Brazilian scene in 2017, like I found out when I interviewed Agencia Zanna back in August.

Look for reviews and hopefully a Q&A or two from these up-and-coming artists in my “Rising Stars” series:

  • Anitta
  • Belo
  • Ana Clara
  • Debora Cidrack, who did a killer cover of the 1993 rock hit by Ace of Base in, “All That She Wants”.

For those who have followed me, please continue to comment and stick around.  For the newbies to this blog, I hope you can go back and read some of my past posts and consider building a library of your own–whether on physical CD’s or adding albums to a online library and building your own Spotify playlist.  I know for a fact that besides Halie Loren, friends of this blog in Fabiana Passoni, Patricia Talem, Sabrina Malheiros, and Monica da Silva from the Complicated Animals each have their albums posted online.

As for a special moment, too many to count.  At least, the nine albums I highlighted above should at least scratch the surface.

Thank you again for all of your continued support.  Let us continue having fun!

 

Artists Worth Checking Out: Soulstance Turns Up The Relaxation Factor

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Image courtesy of sheetmusicplus.com

The Italian duo of Enzo and Gianni Lo Greco featured many pulsating rhythms perfect for any Friday or Saturday night.  With sultry tracks from “The Aftermath of Love” and “Kickin’ Samba”, and even the title track (Track 9), you cannot go wrong with this 2000 release.

Each track averages close to five minutes, perfect background music or if you feel like just lounging around.

And with the onset of winter’s chill taking a firm grip on the northern half of the United States, I thought of a few more albums to turn up the heat factor before the annual hectic period of what I usually call Thanksgiving as the “gobble gobble crunch crunch” type of holiday.

Next week, look for a short review on Fernanda Abreu’s memorable Sony Music offering Amor Geral and just before the Turkey break takes hold–I will provide a review of the 1999 Paulinho Nogueira work on Reflexoes, or “Reflections.”

In the meantime, lots of news (most of it was simply shocking and horrible) affected the world in my other blog on men’s college basketball.  Even after all of the murky details that was brought to the surface from late September on and affecting a prominent school with three players being caught in China in recent days, there is still going to be a season.

And yes, hopefully come March 12 or 13, I hope to proudly bring back my annual tradition strictly for virtual bragging rights–when the fifth Annual Marco Loucura Tournament returns.  At least, the names of the regions should remain the same:  Antonio Carlos Jobim takes care of the East, while the proud and always “cool cat” that is Halie Loren has a firm hold out West, the Midwest stays with the cool precision of the great Milton Nascimento, while the South carries on by the late and truly awesome Oscar Castro-Neves.

All of that and most things important to know can be found by tapping or clicking on this link below:

https://fortyminutesofhoopsfun.wordpress.com/

Please enjoy your weekend, and thank a veteran when you get the chance.

Artists Worth Checking Out: Adam Dunning

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Image courtesy of diskunion.net

Born in Australia, Adam Dunning made a name for himself in 2010 with this sparkling album called Sunset Monkeys.  After spending a few years as a media lawyer in London, Dunning moved to Rio in 2006.  For the next five years, he would be working with many of the early great that Bossa Nova what it was in the 1960’s.

He was able to translate Lyra’s single, “Voce e Eu”, as well as writing the first ever English versions to Roberto Menescal’s “Nos e o Mar” (“We and the Sea”), and Donato / Enio’s “Flor do Mato” (“Jungle Flower”), along with the classic tune “Amazonas” (“The Amazonas”).  Other songs worth a closer listen include “Photograph” (Track 11) with Daniela Procopio on vocals, along with “With You” (Track 14) featuring Laura Lagub on vocals and Max Viana on the electric guitar.  He also managed to write the first French version of the George Gershwin classic song, ‘S Wonderful”.  His website gave credit also to co-writer Manuel Guignard while in Paris, which is the version subsequently endorsed by Warner Bros L.A.  This album has had very strong sales in Turkey, most of Western Europe, Japan, and Australia.  Each song is beautifully done and draws on many cool themes and rhythms throughout the entire album.

Dunning has gone on to produce three more albums, continuing to draw on familiar traditional themes of nature and the role humanity plays in nature.

Although physical CD’s are still available on Amazon and ImportCDs.com, you can also stream the album for free at Spotify and on his Bandcamp page.

Overall, it is over 70 minutes of pure, relaxing fun.

See you all next week for another cool album review.  Enjoy your weekend.