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Master Composers: Torcuato Mariano Penning From His “Diary”

Originally penned after Rio’s Carnaval in 2004, this album is sure to please

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Image courtesy of music-bazaar.com

By the time Torcuato Mariano penned his most famous work, Paradise Station–it would be another decade before Diary was released to the world.

Two songs immediately come to mind when I first heard them on the radio:

Track 2, “Blue Bossa” and Track 7, “Mariana.”  The other songs are very well done, as the guitar gets the most attention and rightfully so.

Similar to the other mentioned album, there are very few vocals.

I also settled on choosing this album since it strikes the proper balance of both very soothing and relaxing, good-natured tones since Brazil suffered yet another disappointing loss last Friday in the FIFA World Cup to Belgium of all countries.

And yes, I profiled Torcuato in one of my first blogs way back in 2012.

Here are my original thoughts from the very early days to refresh your memory:

https://bigzbossanovabeat.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/torcuato-mariano-provides-calm-music-for-all-who-wish-to-listen/

Next week, I am planning a really cool DVD concert review again from Ivete Sangalo.

This time around, we see her on a stage outside one of Rio’s famous beaches.  This really cool outdoor concert took place in 2017, and I thought this would be a perfect album to profile in the middle of summer.

Look for that next week along with another cool album review of one of the earliest albums from Gal Costa–celebrating its’ 30th anniversary of the release titled, Aquarela Do Brasil.

Please enjoy the rest of your week and I will hope that you leave some comments besides this or any of my other past blogs.  Take care, everybody.

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Happy Anniversary, Bossa Nova

What started on July 10, 1958 by Joao Gilberto has spanned six decades of joy, fun, and plenty of interesting moments

From the First Family of Brazilian Jazz that was Joao and Astrud Gilberto, and continuing to this day with Bebel, legends like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Elis Regina, Stan Getz, Baden Powell, and Sergio Mendes helped spur the movement north to the United States.

From the 1990’s to today, the likes of Minas, Eliane Elias, Maria Bethania, Gal Costa, Marcos Valle, Ricardo Silveira, Luciana Souza, along with loyal friends of this blog in Sabrina Malheiros, Glaucia Nasser, Liz Rosa, Monica da Silva, Zizi and Luiza Possi, and Fabiana Passoni continue the tradition.

Without it, this world would be a different place musically speaking.

But if you cannot find a belo de rolo (thin sponge cake, which is a popular dessert in today’s Brazil), go grab a slice of your favorite cake and let us all raise our glasses by making this virtual toast (first in Portuguese, then in American English):

Ao movimento da bossa nova em sessenta anos memoráveis e esperançosamente, haverá sessenta mais. Um grande obrigado a todos os artistas que pavimentaram o caminho e àqueles que orgulhosamente carregam a tocha durante este momento muito especial.

Semelhante aos anúncios de cigarros dos anos 70 emplastrados na parte de trás dos programas de beisebol nos Estados Unidos–tudo o que posso dizer é: “Você percorreu um longo caminho, baby”.

To the bossa nova movement on sixty memorable years and hopefully, there will be sixty more. A huge thank you to every artist which paved the way and to those who proudly carry the torch during this very special moment.

Similar to those 1970’s cigarette ads plastered on the back of baseball programs in the United States–all I can say is, “You have come a long way, baby.”

 

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.  Another album worth checking out is Bons Ventos Sempre Chegam (just be a bit careful when you see the inside fold, as there is a certain B&W image of Luiza attempting to copy off certain Playboy Playmates posing in the bathtub).

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/

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

 

 

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.

 

Master Composers: “From The Wild Sky” by Halie Loren Is Really Amazing

Popular Oregon singer-songwriter’s tenth album places her in very select company

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Image courtesy of jazzmusicarchives.com

From the moment that Halie Loren proudly posted a special video on the Kickstarter page in kicking off her special campaign in autumn 2017 which led to this very moment, yes–at first, I seemed a tiny bit skeptical.  Would it be worth spending some of my hard earned dollars on her first set of songs that she wrote herself?  I still had one more point to consider before I fully committed to the project, and that everything she talked about would be done with lots of care and good intentions for all parties involved.

In all honesty, the more I heard her voice in speaking truly from the heart, plus reading in her own words how passionate and driven she was to see how this project would eventually come to fruition–it made me realize something deep down inside.  It was one of those seminal moments, like if your heart was pretending to briefly skip a beat.  Actually, it was a lot more than that.

I felt personally that very few people can convey in words, let alone proper sentences what this album really meant to me, now that I finally have my own copy to savor.

Was I moved to crying happy tears?  Not really.

Was the inner kid in me finally excited to open the envelope on a nice Friday spring afternoon and read all of the lyrics to each of the first 10 songs (there are two additional tracks which can be found on the Japanese edition, for those of you lucky enough to receive the deluxe version)?

You bet.

Keeping fully in mind the article penned by Bob Keefer, when her face was plastered all over the front page of the Eugene Weekly newspaper on January 11 which thankfully did not in any way temper my excitement.  After reading the parts about what makes this album unique–I kept my level of expectations mostly on an even keel.  It was not nearly as high like when my ears heard her cover, “The Look of Love” or “Mas Que Nada”.  Consequently, the mood was not too low when at times her voice was sometimes drifting away from the microphone–mostly for dramatic effect and not so much to clear any frogs that might have been lurking towards her throat.

As for the album titled “From The Wild Sky”, you cannot help but notice the exquisite artwork she helped design on the digipak cover.  Even in the first set of folds, we see Halie as if she was drifting off to sleep in an attempt to finish writing another song.  Each of the 11 tracks range between 3 minutes on the opening track to no more than 4 1/2 minutes in length (the seventh track).

Besides it being a very cool listen, her album appears to me like she wants to invite the listener on a magical trip to her own world.  Think of it as a place where the distractions are minimal, and mostly fun times are guaranteed for those willing to take a chance on coming up with distinct memories that are both pure and genuine.  Honest people definitely need to apply.

In my case as a blog reporter plus being a fan of jazz music for nearly forty years and a loyal fan of Brazilian jazz for ten years, I decided for the very first time to detail my honest thoughts on each of the 10 songs she came up with–plus a rather eclectic choice for the final track, “A Mi Manera” (a song once made popular by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra).

Track One–“Roots”

During the first 40 seconds, Halie gets into this almost chant like rhythm.  Please don’t think of it as a clone to the 2017 independent rock hit from Alice Merton called “No Roots”.  Instead, this opening track almost felt like waking up from a bad dream.  By the end of the second minute, it neatly felt like she was channeling in her inner Chaka Khan circa 1984.  Again, as I listened to it for the first time–I came away with a totally different appreciation of her lyrics and how she expressed them.  The way she enunciates each word is so captivating, it nearly takes your breath away.  That was nowhere evident than on the next track.

Track Two–“How To Dismantle A Life”

Midas well call this ‘The Young Couples Try Their Best To Figure Things Out Song’.  Seriously, I could see scores of ladies trying to use the word “Yay” in an echo faster than Michelle Branch did on her 2001 pop radio single, “Everywhere”.  You remember it–when at the end of each line, she kept using the syllable “uhh”.  Pace wise, it definitely reminds me a bit of Sara Bareilles when she hit it big on the pop charts in July 2007 with “Love Song.”  Similar to Branch, radio stations could not get enough, and I hope over time–whatever jazz stations remain on terrestrial radio and online will hopefully play this particular track on periodic rotation.

Besides, this was an excellent choice to be her first single and what she said on her Facebook Live session on Friday night from CDWorld in Eugene, Oregon–there was a very cool music video that debuted on her YouTube page on May 11.

The main gist of the story is we see Halie rejecting a bouquet of flowers, a ring that does not fit her finger correctly, and smartly getting a rid of a cake that was on the way to become the world’s biggest pre-4th of July fireworks celebration.

We then see Halie pretending to be a high school teacher in the first minute.  Off goes the blackboard, then later some carefully orchestrated building blocks as if some needy kids needed some blocks to play with.  During the second minute, the screen goes Brady Bunch style, as Halie sings in the middle box while the corner boxes politely oblige as if to say, “I get it.”

However, the one box that gave me the biggest laugh of all was in the top middle–as we see her face shift from one end to the next as if to say, “Wow, look at all of these lovely people.”

The final 50 seconds see her get mostly covered in confetti.  I bet that shower felt really good after the video shoot, was I right?

Track Three–“Wild Birds”

A much slower paced song, but the background lyrics were done masterfully by current jazz star Becca Stevens.  In fact, she was also given credit for doing the charango instrument–so, score one for versatility.

The song kindly reminds us to heed nature’s call, just like I detailed in this very blog in January 2017–of which it turned out to be the biggest single day in terms of page views in my time spent with this blog.  Leave your worries at your doorstep and hear the voices of the animals and see for yourselves where they might end up going in their endless adventures.

If you are lucky enough, perhaps you might see one of these little furry creatures flying around my backyard one spring or summer’s day…

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Speaking of “shadows upon an eternal land”–this June 2010 pic I took from a relatively safe distance should make you all feel very happy:)

Track Four–“Paper Man”

No, I never had any dreams about the guy who delivers our paper on Sunday mornings–nice try.  My safe guess is that this song is for all of the clueless guys in the world who cleverly try and most of them end up failing on how to properly communicate their truest thoughts to members of the opposite sex.  Sarah Spain of ESPN Radio did an excellent 73 minute podcast on Tuesday, April 17 when she talked to many ESPN television personalities when they individually discussed their horror stories on how women are being judged as objects instead of their abilities and skills on the job.  Personally, this #MeToo movement has lots of merit and thousands of women’s voices are being heard.  The thing is, will their cumulative actions finally lead to concrete results?  Besides, when guys think decent thoughts–both honesty and kindness will always win out every day and night of the week.

Track Five–“I Can’t Land”

Originally thought of by Halie while spending time in Tokyo, Japan in fall 2017, I think this song should be called the “I Miss My Man So Much While Stuck On the Road” song.  The lyrics are so spot on, it would make even Carole King jealous.  The line that got me the most was, “There is no one, no one but you who shines up my life better than the sun.”  It is simply a song about long lost loves in hoping they will at least text them, let alone try to call so they can hear the sounds of their voice–even if it is in the middle of a rainstorm.

Track Six–“Well-Loved Woman”

Another clapping, chanting number who enjoys referring to herself in several grand ways.  Unicorns need not apply, but “angels singing in jubilation” are certainly more than welcome to join in.  As for Wonder Woman and Batgirl, count them both in as well and even Sydney Bristow from Alias fame when ABC audiences from 2001-2006 saw Jennifer Garner run away from the bad guys, fly off very high harnesses, and did death-defying stunts.  Personally, it felt like every week you had to rewind the VHS tape to see if it really happened (but in the end, it was a body double that did most of the crazy stunts).  In my true and very humble opinion, this song could definitely be Halie Loren’s calling card.

Track Seven–“Painter’s Song”

The longest song in terms of time at 4 minutes and 37 seconds, it begins with Halie at the piano and continues with Michael Olatuja on electric bass backed up by Troy Miller on the synthesizer.  Miller also contributed several other instruments throughout the album, while Femi Temowo was heard on acoustic guitar.

This is definitely another song about lost love and longing to find a new canvas to paint on.  The almost constant repetition in the chorus nearly reminds me a bit of Diana Krall on some of her later songs.  However, the main message is found when you peel back the onion layers is simply not letting things linger when in times of trouble–but rather, letting things go off into the ether and hope that a new outcome brings a better and brighter tomorrow.

Track Eight–“August Moon”

Calling to mind the popular play title of Tea House and The August Moon, it is simply a clever play on words.  The ukulele came in handy paired with the lyrics, “I never felt more real / Oh, as I do when I steal away with you / Our story is the truth I cling to.”  Great song for a late Friday night.  Similar to what British rockers Depeche Mode sang in the 1980’s with “I Just Can’t Get Enough”–just keep the magic alive, my online friends.

Track Nine–“Noah”

The first time that Halie’s voice drifted briefly away from the microphone, but her message could not be more accurate or prophetic.  The lyrics bring to mind the millions of people who were displaced by hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters–and in some cases, still without homes or power in several parts of Puerto Rico.  This particular track carries a very deep message of gratitude and courage, of which it cannot be taken lightly–but Halie’s songwriting made this song simply unbelievable to hear.

Track Ten–“Wisdom”

Taking a small page from Roberta Flack circa 1974, Halie’s words are killing her many thousands of fans softly with so much kindness, she is hitting us right where it hurts with very little mercy.  And that to me is not a bad thing at all, but the lyrics all by themselves managed to carry a ton of weight.

Halie basically is telling us to squeeze every minute of every day like the drops that lemons make inside your tall, ice cold glass of water mixed with a little sugar and you have instant lemonade.  Take advantage of every opportunity that is handed to you and never be afraid to ask for help or guidance whenever necessary.

True life lessons from a self-proclaimed “nerd”, and for that reason along with many reasons explained in some prior blogs–this album gets my highest rating…and not just because she is more than a pretty face.  Halie does everything close to the best.  Throughout this entire process as she explained in over 20 subscriber specific emails, she remains true to her craft and with this being her tenth album will rank right up there with some of her best works when the entire discography of Halie Loren is all said and done.

As for the final track, we managed to get the pleasure of hearing Halie paired up with Troy Miller on the organ and Femi Temowo on percussion as they did a more soulful, less tense version of “A Mi Manera”.  The song was originally made famous by Frank Sinatra when “My Way” appeared initially as a B-side in 1969.  This song marked the return of the Halie Loren we as fans have come to know and enjoy.  And yes, she did pen a few lines in her “Thoughts & Thanks” page to the many hundreds of pledges who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign “that funded this album’s creation.”

Speaking of thank yous, I found this comment as the most interesting:

“Your stories reminded me of the ways in which songs are powerful, alive, and have their own journeys and myriad purposes for being.  You gifted me with your generosity, including the groundswell of crowdfunding that ultimately made this recording possible.  This album exists because of you.”

Yes indeed, I am glad to be remembered as such a small part of reaching a special milestone.

And so, it gives me great pleasure to say…

Halie Loren, you can safely take your place alongside some very popular and well known jazz legends as a true master of your craft in producing at least ten albums.  By no means is this a complete list, but I am sure fans will find it to be very cool:

  • Louis Armstrong
  • Duke Ellington
  • Miles Davis
  • Glenn Miller
  • Benny Goodman
  • Charlie Parker
  • John Coltrane
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Billie Holiday
  • Thelonious Monk
  • Charles Mingus (mostly as a bandleader, also as a sideman)
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Sonny Rollins
  • Art Blakey
  • Stan Getz
  • Sarah Vaughan
  • Dave Brubeck
  • Oscar Peterson
  • Wes Montgomery
  • Chick Corea (mostly as leader or co-leader)
  • Lionel Hampton (mostly in group sessions)
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • Ron Carter
  • Donald Byrd
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • Joao Gilberto
  • Sergio Mendes
  • Herb Alpert
  • Lani Hall (both before and during her marriage to Herb Alpert)
  • Candy Dulfer
  • Diana Krall
  • Becca Stevens (mostly as a guest)

Congratulations once more to Halie Loren on another simply incredible album;).

BRIEF EPILOGUE:

Halie herself sent this comment on Saturday night, via her page on Facebook:

This is such a beautiful and exceptionally thoughtful review, Matt! Thank you so very much!!!