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Artists Worth Checking Out: John Pizzarelli Struts And Jives His Way Through Many Memorable Hits


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Born in Paterson, New Jersey on April 6, 1960, John Pizzarelli grew up in a musical family.  His father Bucky was a swing guitarist and also was a staffman on two TV networks:  Bobby Rosengarden with the fledgling ABC in 1952 and nearly two decades later when he helped out alongside Dick Cavett in 1971 on NBC.

While studying at Don Basco Prepatory School, an all boys Catholic school located in the northeast corner of New Jersey–he managed to perform during the late 1970’s along the likes of Benny Goodman, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, and Les Paul.

He learned from his father while attending college at the University of Tampa and William Patterson University.  It was during this time that he produced his first solo album titled, I’m Hip (Please Don’t Tell My Father) in 1983.

During the 1990’s, he played in a trio alongside his brother Martin and jazz pianist Ray Kennedy.  They were the opening act for Frank Sinatra in 1993–quite a special moment for those three men during that period of time.

In recent years, he and his wife Jessica Molaskey did their own radio show Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli.  According to Wikipedia, he also did the big band arrangement for a 1999 commercial for Foxwoods Resort Casino.

My album pick to wrap up November is his tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, simply titled Bossa Nova.  Throughout the over 50 minute album, John definitely brings out the lighter side of the classics, ranging from “One Note Samba” to “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Waters of March.”

Other cool renditions that I enjoyed on this 2004 album include “Fascination Rhythm” (Track 2) and “I Remember” (Track 8).  His version of “Love Dance” is also a true show stopper (Track 10).

But most of all, this album is great to play at parties.  Whether it is for background music when you either welcome guests at the front door or passing out appetizers, this would be an awesome album starter.  IMHO, you could add the double Greatest Hits compilation Bossa Nova:  Sua Historia, Sua Gente as excellent dinner music (yes, I covered that album and managed to play it for friends a few years back during a rather fancy dinner, and they loved it).

Speaking of another great album starter, I recall covering Paula Fernandes.  I promised my blog fans that I would do a blog covering her DVD.  Well, a certain thing called life got in the way big time earlier this month–my other blog covering the opening games in men’s college basketball notwithstanding.

I hope to get the chance to review her DVD on Tuesday or Wednesday.  This way, my American fans can go into the Thanksgiving holiday in hopefully a better mood.

After that, I plan to close out 2018 with three albums that were released either in 2017 or earlier this year.  This also includes one of my first blogs that I ever covered in Luciana Souza.  Look for that in your inboxes during the first three weeks of December.

In closing, I wish again to say some special words that hopefully, all of the people and businesses that are still sadly affected by the horrific wildfires up and down most of Southern California get the help they need to not only get back on their feet, but in most cases–to find a newer place away from the forestry so they can enjoy life to the fullest.

Please have a nice weekend.




Master Composers: Laurindo Almeida Was A Legend With Interpreting Many Jazz Standards


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From the 1930’s until his death on July 26, 1995–Laurindo José de Araujo was a master of many jazz styles.

Being self taught, Almeida learned the guitar by age 19.  When he turned 30, he moved from his native Brazil to Los Angeles, he is widely credited in some jazz circles when he teamed up with alto sax man extraordinaire Bud Shank (who was at time working with Stan Kenton) in creating the fusion between jazz and Latin rhythms that we know simply as bossa nova.

While working with film studio orchestra during the early 1950’s, he would also would be a part of over 100 recordings in later earning Grammy Awards in both classical and jazz performances.

The 1953 recording titled, Brazilliance No.1 and No. 2 take the listener on a journey in what author Tim Brookes mentioned in his 2005 book Guitar:  An American Life as simply “samba jazz.”

His solo career began in 1954 when he signed on with Capitol Recordings.  Among his standout recordings included the 1958 Grammy Award winning classical album, the crossover Duets with Spanish Guitar teaming up at that time alongside mezzo-soprano Salli Terri and flutist Martin Ruderman.  According to his Wikipedia page, even popular singer from the 1970’s and 1980’s in Linda Ronstadt became a huge fan of Almeida’s work.  Her aunt was a renowned Spanish singer by the name of Luisa Espinel.

He would end up claiming five Grammys throughout his legendary career.  In 1964, he joined the Modern Jazz Quartet on Collaboration.  The Atlantic Records label would be known in helping produce what we would call today as “chamber jazz” as jazz and classical music were mashed together for the first time.

He managed to return to the MJQ again in the 1990’s, a few decades after dabbling in movies and television shows such as making cameo appearances during the second iteration of A Star Is Born (1954) and on an 1959 episode from the Peter Gunn NBC crime drama titled, “Skin Deep”.

His name appears in performing credits from the likes of Good-Bye, My Lady (1956), Funny Girl (1968), The Godfather (1972), Unforgiven starring Clint Eastwood (1992), and finally briefly humming “The Girl From Ipanema” during The Cat in The Hat (2003).

This album from 1992 by Concord Records was filmed during a concert on October 5, 1991 from The Jazz Note club located in Pacific Beach, California.

The 1954 standard “Outra Vez” (translated on the cover of the CD as simply, “Once Again) leads off the 11 outstanding tracks.  “Blue Skies” and “Goin’ Home” pack a nice 4-5 punch, while even capturing Beethoven’s first movement of the Moonlight Sonata on Track 7 is something to behold.  Also worth a listen is the Antonio Carlos Jobim medley on the very last track.

Almeida was still recording, performing, and teaching right up to his passing from leukemia in Los Angeles on July 26, 1995 at the age of 77.

Fans can find his vast archives that are housed in the Library of Congress.  He will be remembered not only for his longevity in sticking to his craft, but the way he carried himself as a true professional both on and off stage.

As one time music critic for The Monterey Herald newspaper, George Warren mentioned simply in the back of the liner notes:

“Here contemporary jazz at its best meets not only the Latin classes of the Garoto period, but the classics of Western music in general…To Laurindo, there aren’t any musical boundaries worth mentioning, and it’d be boring to be stuck in only one idiom (for) the rest of your life.”

Back again in a few weeks with another cool Brazilian jazz album review.

Artists Worth Checking Out: Paula and Jaques Morelenbaum Bring Japanese Flavor to Brazilian Jazz


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The husband/wife couple of cello Jaques and vocalist Paula Morelenbaum teamed up with Japanese pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto to form this very soothing album lasting just over an hour.

Released on September 4, 2001–the Sony Classical release also features two bonus tracks on the American release:  live concert renditions of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s classic standard “Samba Do Aviao” and “Improvisation”.

The regular 16 tracks feature many classics from “Sabia” (Track 5) and “Bonita” (Track 7), to “Tema Para Ana” (Track 13).  This would make a nice album if you were welcoming company over for a fancy dinner.  The pace is slow, but welcoming.  It should not bore you after a few simple listens.  Numerous B&W images of each of the three artists, plus their instruments at play in the studio compliment each of the Portuguese lyrics.  The traditional playing of key Japanese sounds come towards the end of the disk.

Later on this week or sometime next week, I will close out September with another cool album review–even though the outside air in most of the country still screams summer, with no sure signs of chillier autumn air on the horizon.


In the meantime, I would be remiss to mention that many millions of people need money, food, clean water, the basic life necessities we all take for granted after Hurricane, later Tropical Storm Florence devastated over 2/3 of North Carolina over a four day period.  Please do what you can to contribute to the American Red Cross, plus other worthy charities both online and offline that you deal with in times of natural disasters.

I could only imagine the sheer horror of seeing many roads being impassable at almost every turn and major chunks of Interstate 95 looking like the Mississippi River.

Please keep those people in your prayers who have had to evacuate and also for the unfortunate few that did not leave in time that they all somehow, someway get the help they desperately need.

Artists Worth Checking Out: Oystein Sevag Gives Off Very Soothing Rhythms, Almost Massage-Like Music


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Born in 1957 near Oslo, Norway, Oystein Sevag as a kid took piano lessons in the early 1960’s.  By the time he became a teenager, he played bass in a local rock band but decided better of it to return to classical music instead.

What a wise choice it has turned out to be.

According to his Wikipedia page, Sevag studied flute, piano, and composition at a private Music Conservatory in Oslo.  By the time MTV was wrapping up its’ first decade, Sevag took a major liking to the development of the synthesizer and made his first album an all-encompassing electronic endeavor titled Close Your Eyes and See.

Windham Hall came calling shortly thereafter.  Link (1993) and Global House (1995) soon followed.  In 1996, he teamed up with English-Norwegian guitarist Lakki Patey on the ambient, but very soothing and calm album titled Visual.

After hearing the full 42 minutes late one evening, I can safely say that this album is perfect for anyone who wants to simply relax or maybe enjoy with their next massage.
As the back cover clearly states:

Visual is an ambient, meditative record that conveys a sense of nature and human moods.  It leaves space for listeners to form their own images.”

From “Painful Love” to “Here and Forever”, “Windwave” to “Rio Amazonas” and everything else in between–this disk deserves to be by your bedside when you go to sleep.

Personally, this album and their 2012 follow-up release Space For A Crowded World should go on a calm or soothing playlist alongside these independent pop/rock artists:

  • The Softies from Oregon
  • Passenger from the United Kingdom
  • Also hailing from the UK is Paper Aeroplanes, and their leadoff track “Cliche”.
  • Chicago solo artists heard on WXRT during the former Sunday night program Local Anesthetic during 2016 and 2017 in Jenny Bienemann and Chrissy Johnson (great listening during spring and summer, just fyi).
  • The new album Sculptor along with their older album Passerby from Lulac.
  • First Aid Kit, the sisterly duo from Sweden helps greatly in lighting up those rather cold and dark winter nights.
  • Briefly staying in Europe also great for relaxing albums include Poppy Ackroyd, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker of the UK, and the recently released Tomberlin with their excellent album At Weddings.

Next week, I hope to return with another cool album review.

Just before I go, I wish to salute loyal friends of this blog, Los Angeles’ own Complicated Animals who debuted a single at a recent Southern California wine tour stop called, “All You Are.”  The four minute plus single (including some instances where a gust of wind made Chad Alger’s guitar a bit difficult to hear) features Monica da Silva at her very best.  Hope you can check it out on their album’s Facebook page.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, for those of you in the United States and Canada.  Please stay safe, everyone.

Artists Worth Checking Out: Babado Novo Brings On So Much Energy


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Not much biographical information can be gained about Babado Novo, but I do know this for a fact:

She could give Ivete Sangalo a definite run for her proverbial money, as far as pumping up the tempo and the sound that speaks Friday night club atmosphere 24/7/365.

And it wasn’t just because I posted this blog early on a rainy Friday afternoon.

With a voice that bears a small resemblance to mid 1990’s Mariah Carey and a photogenic smile that might remind some wrestling fans of the very sexy Stacy Keibler.  Make no mistake, her songs are very credible and heartfelt.  Each of the albums profiled here are 14 tracks long, but one disk has more music on it than the other.

Please allow me to briefly explain what I mean.

The first album profile above exudes tons of energy, except on Track 13 being her only pure English song, the loveless romantic ballad titled “Never Can Say Goodbye.”  Even better, all of the liner notes–you can actually read without a magnifying glass!  I say, score one for fans with glasses on especially those who have nearsightedness.

The second album, Ver-Te Mar was released in 2007.  With a total playing time of nearly 48 minutes, it should be enough to satisfy even the pickiest beach comber.

This album also starts off with a very hurried, quickened pace.  But by the time you hit tracks 4, “Pedinho Um Pouco Mais” (translated meaning, “Asking A Little More”; 5, the title track meaning “See You In The Sea” and 7, “Abra Ai” (or “Open There”)–the vibe is much slower.  Think of smooth jazz stars John Legend or Dave Koz slow.

And yes, there is one more English sounding track again on Track 13, the Claudia Leitte written ballad, “Stay.”  Both albums also have plenty of summer time images throughout, including one pic where Babada herself pays a small tribute to one Bo Derek.

Both albums are available physically on Amazon, but only the first album listed O Diario de Claudinha is also available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.  Fans can also check out her most recent works, including some live concert performances and an Ao Vivo session covered for Brazilian television.

Excellent disk for summer, they both deserve to have a special place in your Brazilian jazz collections.

Before I go, I have some important news that crossed my email late on Friday morning.

Familiar Brazilian Jazz MPB Releases New Album


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I profiled Luciana Souza when this blog was starting out late in 2012.  I recall her having an online interview that was both pleasant and outgoing.  Her music exudes calm moods and soothing notes, just right when you are either had enough drama in the workplace or if the waves crash too harsh at your favorite beach.

This time around, according to the Allmusic website–Souza set out to cover ten short tracks as she pays tribute to the late Leonard Cohen’s works on his poetry and drawings.  The album is available for physical CD purchase on Amazon.  Look for the title, The Book of Longing.

My goal is to profile this album in early December, along with a pair of other albums that were or are yet to be issued here in 2018.  Since I have already profiled a majority of the important holiday albums in Decembers past, I devote December to spotlighting newer albums that should at least get a good listen.

Besides, everybody needs at least Bossa Break–and especially if your favorite radio stations decide to play nothing but Christmas Carols in early November?!

But it is best not to think way too far ahead of ourselves.  As I often think, the second half of any calendar year usually has more plots and drama than the first half–outside of the week leading up to the NFL’s Super Bowl, the biggest street party in the world as most of Louisiana shuts down for Mardi Gras, and of course, Rio’s annual gift to the world with the Sambadrome lighting up the Rio sky and these massive floats and sometimes outlandish costumes put on by many samba schools (not to be thought of places of learning, but simply dance troupes to you and me) bring on a flavor that speaks true carioca all year long.

Please have a great weekend.  Hope to be back next week with another cool jazz album review.

Artist Worth Knowing About: Marina Lima Rocks On With Volume 38


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Originally released on March 17, 1998 under the Polygram do Brasil label, a majority of the songs done by Marina Lima immediately bring on a vibe famously used by Gloria Estefan and the Indigo Girls.

However, there was a pleasant trio of tracks that are of pure jazz in nature.  Track 3, “”Me Chama” (translated to one of Blondie’s famous songs from the early 1980’s, “Call Me”), Track 5 “Fullgas”, and Track 10 “Pseudo Blues.”

The 46 minute plus album closes out with a special appearance by Renato Rocketh on the track titled, “Uma Noite E 1/2” (or “One Night And A Half”).

Nice disk for summer.  Available for physical CD purchase at Amazon and other online sites.

Back next week with another album review.  Please enjoy your weekend.


Artists Worth Checking Out: Danni Carlos


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Born July 2, 1975 in Rio–Danni Carlos has made quite a career out of mixing up popular rock and pop tunes from the latter part of the 20th century into the very cool and suave bossa beat that Brazilian music fans come to know and expect.

Besides appearing in some movies and acting on television, her peak period of albums came 2003 and 2006.  I was fortunate enough to spend a decent chunk of June playing these popular songs, and these were my top five choices:

5. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Volume 1 and on the “Ao Vivo” disk.

Made popular by U2 in 1987.

4. It Must Have Been Love, Volume 2.

Made popular by Wilson Phillips in 1991.

3. Freedom, Volume 3.

Made popular by George Michael in 1990.

2. Like A Prayer, Volume 2.

Made popular by Madonna in 1990.

  1. Back On The Chain Gang, Volume 2.

Made popular by The Pretenders in 1984.

SPECIAL NOTE:  With the United States in holiday mode with the upcoming Independence Day holiday on Wednesday, I wish to take this opportunity to wish all of my favorite MPB’s and fans a very Happy and safe Fourth of July.  I will be back again the week of July 8 with another cool blog for your reading pleasure.

And let us send our continued best wishes for Halie Loren, who is wrapping up her American tour in the same city where Danica Patrick recently called it a career in auto racing after over 13 memorable years in Indianapolis.  Halie will then headline a huge four night stop in Tokyo, Japan before making single stops later this month in Seoul, Korea; Paris, and finally, London before coming home.

And yes, I would be remiss but to wish the Brazil National Soccer (Futbol) Team boa sorte/good luck in their Knockout (Sweet 16) Round World Cup match against powerful Mexico on Monday in Russia.  If I had to compare it to an NCAA Tournament dream bracket, it would be like when Indiana beat North Carolina in 1984 ending the college career of one Michael Jordan.  Or in 2002, when the Hoosiers entered that stage in Lexington, Kentucky as the 5 seed against the South Region’s top seed in Duke and Indiana beat the Blue Devils rather soundly.
With longtime nemesis Argentina bounced from the tournament on Saturday, a statement I commonly mention a lot in March in my other blog definitely applies here–Expect the Unexpected.

Will Brazil’s key stars find the back of the net?  Stick around to Fox or Telemundo and find out for yourselves.  Enjoy the match, everybody.