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Artists Worth Checking Out: Ana Clara


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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.


Master Composers: Paulinho Nogueira Gave Us True Reflections


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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 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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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.

Artists Worth Checking Out: Soulstance Turns Up The Relaxation Factor


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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:

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

Artists Worth Checking Out: Adam Dunning


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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, 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.

Halie Loren on Kickstarter Proved To Be A Major Success

The final numbers are simply astounding:

$68,145 pledged of $64,000 goal

364 backers

That is an average of $187.21 per backer.

Way cool.

In the meantime, as she takes us behind the scenes during the next five plus months–same mostly old script here.  Lots of cool album and occasional concert DVD reviews for you to enjoy.

Again, congratulations to Halie.  Cannot wait to blog about your tenth album in 2018.

Artists Worth Checking Out: Toledo Brings On Soothing Factor


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Not much biographical information is available about this veteran musical artist.  However, in 1995, Toledo scored a gem with this little heard of jazz album from Sony Discos out of Miami, Florida.

Featuring a steady mix of very little vocals along with lots of really cool guitars and percussion, this album can tug at the heart unlike many albums that I know of.

The best songs are the opener “Roots”, which longtime music critic Joel Dorn penned in the liner notes as, “a ‘sound’ that was the perfect focus for his playing and composing”, along with “Bahia” on Track 4.

A nice album for the weekend or any late night, nice music to keep on in the background if you are working on that lengthy project around the house.

Next week, we will kick off October with more nice album reviews from days gone by.  Hope to see you all then.