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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:

 

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Master Composers: Ithamara Koorax Sets The Right Mood With Serenade In Blue

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Image courtesy of allmusic.com

Ithamara Koorax was born in Rio on May 23, 1965.  She has worked with many greats from Brazilian jazz past including Antonio Carlos Jobim, Edu Lobo, and Larry Coryell.  Among present day artists, Koorax has worked alongside Ron Carter, Jay Berliner, and the group Azymuth.

Between 1993 and 2007, Ithamara has produced 32 albums and two concert DVD’s.  My Album Pick of the Week features her work from May 2000, minus the 2001 bonus cuts and the enhanced disk released by Concord Records in 2006.

The 45 minute compilation album is great for late night listening.  It starts out at a snail’s pace with the seven minute number, “Bonita”.  By the time we hear her version of “Mas Que Nada” on Track 3, it started out great and then it got into many Ow!’s towards the final minute.  Thankfully, the good moments outnumbered the bad.

Her takes on “Moon River” (Track 5) and “The Shadow of Your Smile” (Track 8) are true showstoppers.  She continues to perform all over the world, especially in Europe and Japan where she has received huge acclaim for her singing.  When she sang in English, she never skipped a beat in addition to doing some French and her native Portuguese–each song was beautifully done.

Perhaps it was said best on the Fantasy Records label liner notes penned very neatly by Lee Jeske.  He took up nearly four full pages of the CD insert explaining all of the accomplishments that Ithamara did throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s.

However, the last small paragraph struck an interesting chord with me as a loyal, passionate fan of smooth jazz in general and Brazilian jazz in particular.

The quote went something like this:

“She’s a singer of her time, and this is an album of its time.  Bossa nova, lounge music, drum-and-bass, jazz, samba, English, French, Portuguese.  Electric, acoustic.  Everything is mixed and matched and blended and constructed in a way that speak of no time but all time.”

That is an excellent reason that Ithamara Koorax definitely belongs as a true Master Composer and deserves a nice place in your music library of choice.

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Image courtesy of altoeclaro.blogspot.com

I plan to do my next entry on Saturday.  Hope to see you then.

 

Master Composers: Johnny Alf Brought Some Very Pleasant Memories

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Cover to Vinyl Record courtesy of soft-tempo.com

Born as Alfredo José da Silva on May 19, 1929 in Rio, some observers used to know Johnny Alf simply as “The Father of Bossa Nova”.

He barely knew his own father, who died in combat during the Brazilian Civil War of 1932.  His mother primarily worked as a maid while Johnny learned classical piano as a student in the Brazilian-American Institute (or IBEU).  An instructor by the name of Geni Balsamo gave him the last name of Alf.  Of course, the name would become wildly popular when Gordon Shumway popularized an extra terrestrial character on a popular NBC sitcom that aired during the years 1986 through 1990.  (And for you trivia buffs out there, ALF was an acronym which simply stood for Alien Life Form).

Instead of falling in love with the piano, his love of music came from listening to the likes of George Shearing and in particular the Nat King Cole Trio.  Not a bad combination to start with, I must say.

By 1952, he gained his first break as a musician.  On the recommendation of Dick Farney, he frequented many night clubs which offered food as a reason to stay and enjoy the tunes.  Nowadays, if you heard that kind of recommendation–you would probably be thinking that you got ripped off.  The Guardian of the United Kingdom mentioned that the now-defunct Hotel Plaza in Copacabana was quite the hotspot in its’ day.  Future bossa kings managed to hear his work, names such as Roberto Menescal, Carlos Lyra, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

My album pick meaning “Me and The Breeze” dates from 1966, roughly at the beginning of what would be a 38 year career and 12 albums as lead artist plus another 19 credited as a writer to artists from Tania Maria and Azymuth to Joyce and Leila Pinheiro.

The songs are a great option for dinner music, nice flowing lyrics and carry a decent pace throughout.  The best part IMHO, the 12 tracks only last around 36 minutes.

Albeit the liner notes inside are written in Portuguese, I managed to translate one of the last key sentences:

“Each note, every word, not yet heard, not felt.”

Liner notes translated from Fabricado Por Sonopress Records release on CD

He died on March 4, 2010 just outside of Sao Paolo in the town called Santo Andre of prostate cancer after a nearly 45 year career teaching in conservatory.

In an interview with the New York Times that appeared as the last sentence from his obituary, he commented in 2009 about his legacy:

“At least I’m not completely forgotten.  My music was always considered difficult.  The record labels sensed the value of my music, but it never had the commercial appeal that they would have liked.”

Although Johnny Alf produced only 20 albums, he left quite an impact.  The album is available for purchase online via eBay and Amazon and should also be available for instant streaming on your music player of choice.

Next week, I will go back to profiling some modern artists.  Hope to see you all then.

 

 

2018 Marco Loucura Final Four is Set

After some tense struggles, a quarter of living stars emerged to the final rounds

Nowhere was it more tense than what took place in the Milton Nascimento Regional.  The semifinals had the second seed of Frank Sinatra barely outlasting Lani Hall of Sergio Mendes ’66 fame, then it was Marisa Monte easily outlasting Gerardo Frisina.  On Sunday, it took an extra half hour of songs and plenty of extra drinks but Monte had just enough moxie to eek out a hard earned victory over Ol’ Blue Eyes.  Although Frank Sinatra came close in regular time, but the vinyl record skipped a few beats on the way out the door.

In the Halie Loren Regional, another shocker on Thursday had last year’s runner up in Bianca Rossini crying major tears as she was upset big time by Luisa Maita.  But luckily, Maita’s magic simply ran out because he forgot to tie his shoes when things mattered most–similar to Florida State not fouling in the final 11 seconds down four points to Michigan at the West Regional in Lipstick City, Los Angeles.  Ricardo Silveira sadly didn’t have it in the cards this year as well.

The Antonio Carlos Jobim Regional was pretty much as expected, as Joyce Cooling again shined the brightest as her star glared the most in beating out the surprise 3 seed winner of the late George Michael running circles around Ivan Lins late Friday night.

Finally, the best shall be last as my first Brazilian jazz crush of Patricia Talem outlasted the 7 seed of Morgana King and the 9 seed of Nico Gomez in the Oscar Castro Neves Regional to reach the virtual Promised Land of the Marco Loucura Final Four.  I can only imagine what kind of party is taking place in her hometown, similar to all of Chicago brimming for joy as the Loyola Ramblers reached their first Final Four since winning it all way back in bossa nova’s heyday of 1963.

And so, your matchups to close out the always crazy month of March are…

11. Patricia Talem vs. 3 Djavan

followed by…

a pair of 1 seeds–Marisa Monte vs. Joyce Cooling

For Joyce, she will be seeking her second title in three years.  In the case of Djavan, he is hoping to make amends in what Fabiana Passoni did in rather sweet fashion back in 2013 (and yes, a little birdie told me that Fabiana was not caught cheating at any time).

As for the other pair of talented singers in Marisa Monte and Patricia Talem, we will all find out together how it plays out.

At least, I will be showing off a little of my bunny best and it won’t be your typical April Fool’s joke;)  Why?  Because on Sunday, April 1–I will showcase one picture highlighting both of the finalists before the last virtual match takes place on Monday night, April the 2nd.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my next Album Pick of the Week which will hit your inboxes sometime on Wednesday.  Please enjoy your week, everyone.

 

Several Shocking Surprises In the Marco Loucura Version of the Sweet 16

The favorites continued to fall by the wayside

Yours Truly Online did not see this coming.

The highest seed to emerge from the Oscar Castro-Neves Region was the five seed of Gisele de Santi.  She is going forward the new favorite going into the next round.

Also, the 11 seed of Patricia Talem–my first ever interview from another blog site earlier this decade is the newest version of a Cinderella darling.

Here are your matchups for Thursday and Friday:

OSCAR CASTRO NEVES REGIONAL

7. Morgana King vs. 11 Patricia Talem

5. Gisele de Santi vs. 9 Nico Gomez

ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM REGIONAL

  1. Joyce Cooling vs. 5. Sabrina Malheiros

2. Ivan Lins vs. 3. George Michael

MILTON NASCIMENTO REGIONAL

  1. Marisa Monte vs. 5. Gerardo Frisina

2. Frank Sinatra vs. 11. Lani Hall, what a matchup that is going to be

HALIE LOREN REGIONAL

3. Djavan vs. 7. Ricardo Silveira

4. Bianca Rossini vs. 9. Luisa Maita

Who will emerge to the Brazilian Fun Jazz Final Four?  Find out next week.

 

 

Major Upset In Marco Loucura

Marina Elali gets TKO’d by 1960’s artist Marilia Medalha

If you had it all figured out, you are sorely mistaken–especially in the minutes following the first ever Number 16 seed to knock out the overall Number 1 seed as the Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers out of the America East Conference simply pummeled the top seed of Virginia on Friday night in Charlotte, 74-54 in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s basketball Tournament.

This means in the Oscar Castro Neves Region, could Gisele de Santi have new life?  We will find out more on Monday.  Please try to enjoy your weekend.

Master Composers: Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

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LP image courtesy of cdandlp.com

For most of the 1960’s, Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass were it.

Wikipedia listed them as one of the top groups encompassing jazz, Latin, funk, pop, and R&B.  From the week ending October 16, 1965 through April 29, 1967, the group had at least one album in the Top 10–an astounding 81 weeks in a row.  They were also in the Top 10 most of that period as well.  In fact, over 13 million LP’s were sold in 1966 edging out the Beatles.

Even the famed Guinness Book of World Records recognized the group when he set a new record placing five different albums simultaneously in the Top 20 on the Billboard Pop Album chart.  During the first seven days of April 1966, four of them albums found themselves in the top 10–matching the same feat accomplished by The Kingston Trio towards the end of 1959.  Several CBS television primetime specials would soon follow and many more accolades and awards made them one of the 20th centuries greatest musical groups.

This album came out originally in 1964 under the A&M Records label.  Although the CD cover image has the woman smiling while cuddling adjacent to Alpert’s famous trombone, there is a commemorative booklet with 24 pages of detailed liner notes that are included as part of the Herb Alpert Signature Series.

Overall, the album covers around 30 minutes of solid trumpet and pianos aplenty.  In particular, their non-vocal version of “The Girl From Ipanema” is a definite show stopper.  You have to listen very closely to understand the full effect.

But this album has a deeper, more special meaning for Yours Truly Online…

This blog is in tribute to one of my mother’s all-time favorite groups.

And yes, my mother first managed to hear about this group while attending the same school for all 12 years–first in grade school, then in high school.  I don’t know too many other individuals, famous or otherwise who have done that.

Similar to Herb Alpert himself who is still going strong these days at age 82, my mother crossed a milestone age that she is taking fully in stride on Saturday.

Only me and her closest family and friends what that age exactly is.

Personally though, I hope she enjoys hearing this album with the famous boxed set of Whipped Cream. 

Feliz Aniversário, Mãe E Muito Mais.

Happy Birthday, Mom and Many More.