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Speaking of Something Special

On Saturday, May 5, my mother along with a friend of hers had the chance to see the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

It was part of 40 Embassies participating in an Around the World Embassy Tour, which was open to visitors and on different days, other Embassies took part in similar open tours.

On this particular muggy afternoon (where temperatures that particular day soared toward 95 degrees), she got the chance to view some artwork unique to the region of Amazonas along with seeing some regional dance and music troupes performing on the Embassy grounds.

The four story complex dates back as far back as 1908.  Four Tuscan-style pillars and a coat of arms carved from limestone give off that special touch to special dignitaries and visitors alike.

Known as McCormick Villa, it was named in honor of the original owners, U.S. diplomat and Chicago Tribune founder Robert McCormick and his wife Katherine.

The Brazilian government purchased the property in 1934 during the height of America’s Great Depression.

The brochures you see pictured above are dozens of tourism, entertainment, and athletic venues located throughout the region simply known as the “Brazilian Green Destination”.  Bordered by Colombia and Venezuela to the north, Peru to the west, and Mato Grosso to the south, amidst all of the forestry and greenery–there are three shopping malls within a few kilometers (or a few miles) from each other.  There is also a museum that opened in 2010, reliving the colorful history of former Governor Eduardo Goncalves Ribeiro.  And of course, this blog would not be complete without mentioning it is the home to soccer/futbol’s Arena Da Amazonia, a 44,000 seat stadium inspired simply by many twisted fibers of straw baskets which opened in time to host several early round matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

If you wish to find out more about when the Embassy is planning to do open days in the future, it is located at 3006 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest in Washington’s famed Embassy Row and their website is both readable in American English and Portuguese.

 

 

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Artists Worth Checking Out: Carlos Malta

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Image courtesy of allmusic.com

Carlos Malta was born on February 25, 1960 in Rio.  He mainly plays several types of flute instruments–along with clarone, saxophone, and clarinet.

According to the Portuguese Wikipedia page, Malta started playing professionally at the age of 18, mainly playing with the likes of Gil Evans, Maria Creuza, Johnny Alf, and Antônio Carlos & Jocáfi.  Three years later, he toured with Hermeto Pascoal, forging a nice musical relationship which lasted a dozen years.

His solo career began in 1993, and has been going strong for the last quarter century.

He also played with Egberto Gismonti, Pat Metheny, Gil Evans, Marcus Miller, Charlie Haden, Wagner Tiso, Laércio de Freitas and Nico Assumpção.

Since 1994, Carlos also was a teacher for many festivals that take place throughout Brazil and around the world.  That same year, he helped found the groups Coreto Urbano (done by varied formation) and Pife Muderno (which featured Andréa Ernest Dias, Marcos Suzano, Oscar Bolão and Durval Pereira).

Three years later, he appeared in the 1997 Free Jazz Festival with the Urban Coreto and the Modern Pife groups, in a show chosen by O Globo newspaper as the best show of the year.

His first sold CD was released in 1998 which is simply titled, “The Wind Sculptor”.

Among such accolades, he also took part in some very special concerts when the Dave Matthews Band played in tours of Rio in the years 2008, 2010, and 2013–along with a separate tour stop in Porto Alegre, also in 2013.
Of his five solo albums, they were mostly done around the turn of the century.  His most recent work from 2011 is called, Prana.
My review this time around is from of his earliest compilations from 1998, translated meaning Brazilian Way.
It is, by far–in the mind of this blog reporter–the most calm and soothing album I have ever heard on that end of the Equator.
Only a few albums from the likes of Vancouver pianist/songwriter extraordinaire in Diana Krall and the always kind, honest, fun-loving Alaska by birth and true Oregon native Halie Loren come very close to setting the right good-natured mood if you want to just take a mental break from all of the chaos and mundane things that continue to dominate American society today.
Featuring hits titled Light of the Sun, Chameleon (not related to the awesome 1980’s pop rock song done by Boy George and Culture Club), Swim of the Mermaid, and Messing Around With My Band–please don’t take the song titles lightly.
This is a nice album to simply kick off your shoes, or heels in the case of the ladies and my favorite MPB’s reading.  The CD is available for purchase on Amazon and eBay, and should also be streamed via Apple Music and Tidal.  Spotify has his most recent works.
Next week, as we close out the long month of May and especially after the first weekend of summer in the United States as America briefly pauses to remember all of the men and women in uniform who died in the heat of battle during all conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the current ordeal in Iraq–
Please look for a review of work done by Richard Sorce, who did a compilation project during the last three years and his 2017 album release was gaining quite some decent notoriety in and out of Brazil upon its’ release.
See you all seen, and please stay safe everybody–especially with the true summer heat finally penetrating the northern half of the United States.
Take that, Ol’ Man Winter.  Surf’s Up, if you are willing to try.
 

 

Artists Worth Checking Out: Jeff Gardner

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Image courtesy of allmusic.com

Jeff Gardner was born in 1953 in New York.   He has been a jazz pianist and composer for nearly four decades.  According to the brief bio at Allmusic.com, Gardner was classically trained by the time he turned five.  Relocating to Paris in 1977, he got one of his lucky breaks by studying under Nadia Boulanger.  For the next two decades while remaining in France, his star in global music reached ost of the corners of the globe–which included stops not only to Brazil, but also Cuba, North Africa, and Madagascar.  By 1995, he toured with the likes of Steve Lacy, Eddie Harris, and Kenny Wheeler.  He also wrote a book in 1996 called, Jazz Piano: Creative Concepts & Techniques.  He returned home to New York in 1997.

My Album Pick of the Week is his debut album from 1992.  Sky Dance features plenty of great piano jazz, with the pace slightly rushed on a few tracks.  Most of all, this nearly 65 minute album features moderately paced songs perfect enough for most workplaces.

Even Gilberto Gil got in on the act, appearing on the final track “Save The Earth.”  Overall, it is a nice album and is available for purchase on Amazon and eBay, along with instant streaming on Apple Music, Spotify, and hopefully is on the new YouTube Music platform–which debuted today for free and paying subscriptions.

My next blog hopefully towards the end of the week will be a compilation by Carlos Malta, which should get that heart pumping towards the first weekend of summer.  And for some people in the Midwestern United States, the firm and tight grip of Ol’ Man Winter is finally heading south where it belongs.

Hope to see you all then.  Please have yourself a pleasant day.

Here Is A Calm Playlist Dedicated To All Of The Sleep Deprived People After Watching The Royal Wedding

This is why the Olympics in other countries do not play well with most American audiences–with the rare exception of people working the graveyard shift.

With the first ever streamed wedding involving Meghan Markle, who was a one-time Briefcase Gal of NBC’s once popular game show Deal or No Deal back in 2007 (who briefly appeared opening up those silver briefcases for only four episodes)…

I thought of just the right playlist of songs that will help everyone get some much needed sleep on this mostly raw, dismal looking Saturday morning in most of the Midwest and New England regions.  And for some of you who might be somehow listening in on the buses and trolleys on your way back to London’s Heathrow Airport–I hope this nearly hour long playlist of classic tunes from 1966 helps pass the time wisely:

 

Master Composers: Basia Is Back, And In A Big Way

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Image courtesy of albumzipmp3.com

Basia arrived from her native Poland in the 1980’s amidst the first tidal wave of hits on MTV.  Three popular smooth jazz albums later, she took time off during the 1990’s only to re-emerge with her last album in 2009 It’s That Girl Again.  Her last album  did not fare that well with record sales.

Hopefully, that will change with her latest work out today (Friday, May 18).

Her classic vibe and sound is clearly evident on the first pair of tracks, “Bubble” and the Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 themed “Matteo”.  Other cool highlights include the title track and the Broadway inspired hot take on Track 6, “Be.Pop”.  “Like Crazy” (Track 9) and “Pandora’s Box” close out the nearly 42 1/2 minute album.

It is available for physical CD purchase on Amazon and also available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and coming this Tuesday–YouTube Music.

Back with another cool album review sometime next week.  Please try to enjoy your weekend (unless of course some of you plan on being sleep deprived watching live coverage of The Royal Wedding from across the pond).

Artists Worth Checking Out: Luiza Possi

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Image courtesy of americanas.com.br

Born on June 26, 1984 in Rio, the daughter of famed MPB jazz artist Zizi Possi has carved out quite a discography for herself.

She has produced six solo albums between 2002 to 2016, plus two live albums and the compilation album I highlight here from June 2015.

The album is very calm and playful to play on any weekend afternoon.  Bubbly, carefree music is the name of the game here.  Luiza also got the chance to sing a bit of English on one of the tracks, Calling You in a duet with Herbert Vianna (Track 11).  Her voice definitely has a small resemblance to her mom, that’s for sure.

Most of her key albums are available for purchase on CD, along with her entire musical discography can be found on streaming music players such as Apple Music and Spotify.

And for that, I say to Fabiana Passoni and the aforementioned Zizi Possi, have a happy and fun Mother’s Day.

For those of you wishing to read a bit more about Luiza’s mother, I did a blog about her earlier this decade.  You can check it out at the link below:

https://bigzbossanovabeat.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/artists-worth-checking-out-zizi-possi-explores-many-different-avenues-in-her-bossa-album/

 

 

Artists Worth Checking Out: Claudia Leitte

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Image courtesy of produto.mercadolivre.com.br

Born as Cláudia Cristina Leite Inácio Pedreira on July 10, 1980 in Sao Gancolo, located on the northeastern section of Guanaraba Bay in Rio.

She first rose to fame as lead vocalist for the group Babodo Novo, which managed to be huge in Brazil between the years 2003 to 2007.

Shortly thereafter, Leitte began her solo career which has taken off ever since.

After signing a deal with Sony Music, her first solo album As Mascaras was released.  On January 14, 2014, Axemusic was released (her fourth on CD), along with a nearly two hour concert that was recored the previous August.

Her songs are show stoppers, as evidenced by the fact from Wikipedia she has over 38 million social media followers on her Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.  The way she commands a stage is right up there with the likes of Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, and to a certain extent with Madonna.

A good 95 percent of the songs included are high energy, all the time.  If you feel like having a good time, these albums are for you to check out.

A similar case can be said for the daughter of famed Brazilian MPB artist Zizi Possi.  Her daughter Luiza Possi has carved out a very nice career for herself.  It just so happens that I hope you enjoy my profile of her career just in time for Mother’s Day.

Look for that blog tomorrow.  See you then.