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Artists Worth Checking Out: Kerry Linder Brings On Many Relaxing Sounds

Image courtesy of musicflacworld.com

Image courtesy of musicflacworld.com

Growing up in the Netherlands Antilles on the island of Curaçao, Kerry is a key figure on the New York City jazz scene.

Her 2004 debut album, Sail Away With Me features very calm and nice versions of late 1950’s/early 1960’s samba songs.

The liner notes explain in her own words some of the reasons why she chose the songs.  With Mauro Refosco on percussion and Paulo Andre Tavares on guitar, the songs take on a refreshing, yet soothing vibe.  No two songs are alike in pace or rhythm, but that is part of the fun of hearing this album.

Rather than bore you with sounding off on her key thoughts from each track, my basic thoughts tell me one thing that this is indeed my favorite season of the year:

Nice pic distraction, don't you think? Image courtesy of my own personal collection

Nice pic distraction, don’t you think?
Image courtesy of my own personal collection

The songs bring about a relaxed, not rushed pace.  Kerry’s voice switches from Portuguese to English and back almost as easily as a hand trying on a new glove.

My favorite songs include not only the title track but “St. Judy’s Comet” on Track 5 and the three minute scat number with a simple closing remark, “That’s All.”

Overall, this is a very nice CD to have in your car or welcome in guests for a relaxing night with friends.

For those that are inclined to have a little extra fun, it is time to grab your favorite apple cider drink and start kicking around some newly fallen leaves on your way to your favorite orchards and take in the autumn season.

As we have often found out especially in the northern half of the United States, autumn only lasts for a few days and Mother Nature greets us with a extended bout of winter cold.  Hopefully, today will be the start of some very decent weather days to come.

More good profiles to come during October, and there might be another Olympic update as well.  Hope to see you all then, please take care of yourselves.

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Movie Break: That Night In Rio, A Pure Classic In Many Ways

Image courtesy of freecodesource.com

Image courtesy of freecodesource.com

Sandwiched roughly midway between a 25 year career in movies and television, the woman affectionately known as “The Brazilian Bombshell” shined in the 1940 Fox musical production of That Night in Rio.

The movie was a remake of the 1934 film, Folies Bergerewhich was made in Paris.  Also of note, this movie was a follow-up to the Latin inspired film, Down Argentine Way.

Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) played herself and proudly showed her acting prowess early and often.

With fellow stars as Alice Faye (1915-1998) as the long, lost lover Cecilia and Don Ameche (1908-1993) playing both roles of Larry Martin and aviation tycoon Baron Duarte.  One scene in particular inbetween his suave voice and daring intellect was about halfway through the film as an extended temporary wall was moving without hands.  Optical illusion for some, sure–but there were other funny moments in this film as well:

  • The traders were not acting like today’s traders in the stock market.  One gentleman waved constantly to The Baron standing on a balcony above, smiling the whole time as the banker was getting ready to write another check.  You don’t see that practice at all anymore, thanks to the world of smartphone technology and if any CEO’s still use faxes let alone emails to process multimillion dollar transactions.
  • The way The Baron’s eyes moved while Larry impersonated him in a music number.  That was pretty amazing to see.  Even the four ladies pretending to be secretaries of the era had their lines down perfectly.

Carmen also was a fast talker.  She could get anything she wanted, as long as she was convincing and asked for things the way she liked things to be handled.

And yes, those famed “tutti-frutti” hats that she wore on set became true staples in the fashion industry for decades.  In 1976, according to Wikipedia–a museum in her honor opened its’ doors on the 21st anniversary of her passing.  Most of her garments are on full display near Flamengo Park in Rio–but there are plans to move the collections to a bigger place in the future.

Carmen’s key singing and dancing numbers were on Track 2, her famous “Chica Chica Boom Chic” number along with “Cai-Cai” on Track 16 followed up seconds later by the clever lyrics of “I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much).”  Note the movements with how she danced, along with the placement of her eyes.  Sometimes, Carmen could be deceiving, but in a slightly cunning and different way.  She even showed off her physical power as a woman not to miss with–smashing things and trashing nearly all of the Baron’s wardrobe inside his rather expansive closet.

But by the time both Barons straightened out their stock situation and their married lives with one final “oh, let’s forget this whole thing ever happened” routine, all was good again in Rio.

A nice, but short musical medley of every song played in the movie closed out the film.

The film was done at a very brisk and nice pace–not too fast, but the music numbers did not drag on and on like some musicals of the period.

Thankfully, Fox was able to restore the original 1941 B&W production with really excellent color imagery done in 2008.  One of the bonus features demonstrates side-by-side the major differences in both B&W and color restoration.  If you had purchased this movie in 1994, the color images of the background images would have appeared more faint.  But in this version, the whole movie set looked like it was shot in 1961 and not 1941.

The liner notes also talked about that in Carmen’s movie contract, her singing and dancing numbers were done in one take–no editing had to be done.

Other key bonus features included Alice Faye and Don Ameche dancing for over two minutes to the same Carmen Miranda performed at the beginning of the film (but note the very stark difference in color restoration–you can barely make out the water and the marble floors).  There is also a on-screen featurette highlighting Alice Faye’s career.

Carmen would later make a big name of herself in the United States, performing in many venues and also on early TV favorites such as appearing on four episodes of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater and appearing as a mystery guest on an episode of the classic game show, What’s My Line? dated November 18, 1951.

Sadly, after appearing on a 1955 episode of The Jimmy Durante Show, she slipped on stage and would die in her sleep after suffering a heart attack.  Similar to what would happen a few years later with Marilyn Monroe, Carmen Miranda was taken away from this world way too soon at the tender age of 46.

In 1995, Helena Solberg created a documentary culling together hundreds of hours of archival footage simply titled, Carmen Miranda:  Bananas is My Business.

As the original spokesperson for Chiquita bananas, it was no wonder why she had the persona, grace, and comic wit to charm many ladies and gentlemanly fans of that era.

The best way for me as a loyal Brazilian music fan and blogger would be for my loyal fans to simply savor a couple of special quotes said by Carmen herself:

“I have never followed what people say it is ‘fashionable’.  I think that a woman must wear what fits her.  That is why I created a style appropriated to my type and my artistical genre.”

That quote comes from the website, quotesdaddy.com

“I say 20 words in English.  I say money, money, money, and I say hot dog!  I say yes, no and I say money, money, money and I say turkey sandwich and I say grape juice.”
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/carmen_miranda.html#8leX6c7cYiWzs2cz.99
The restored color version of this DVD is available online.  I give it four out of 5 stars as a very good musical number–albeit I am not much of a fan of the musical genre in general.  However, I found this movie to be really exciting and the storylines to be mostly believable–even though ladies usually get away with dressing up as similar people more often than guys in today’s culture.
No question about it, Carmen Miranda was a true mover and shaker in more ways than one.  Next time you are in Los Angeles, look for her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  She definitely earned her superstar status in such a short time, and that’s how I will remember her career.

Movie Break: Black Orpheus Resonates Around Four Very Important Themes

Albeit the theme revolves around Carnaval, the key American holiday of Thanksgiving also ties in very well in this 1959 classic film

Image courtesy of criterion.com

Image courtesy of criterion.com

Based on the 1942 Orson Welles B&W film titled, It’s All True–Black Orpheus really shines on four key themes:

Life

Love

Spirit

Happiness

I will review each of these points toward the end of this blog review.

There were many reasons why this film is so highly regarded, since it was honored as both the 1959 Cannes Film Festival Major Award Winner and also claiming the 1960 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film.

The opening features a typical day in the Brazilian countryside.  The sambas begin about 90 seconds into the film, as visions of a kite flying over Sugarloaf Mountain dominate the screen.

A traditional drum beat plays on for about 4 minutes, and is a recurring theme throughout the rest of the film.

The main character Orfeu (played by Breno Mello, 1931-2008) thinks Mardi Gras has truly broken out!  Images of office buildings are seen briefly.  By the time he steers the #2562 Babilonia bus at the Pagador Depot, the original Jobim score of “O Nosso Amor” plays.  Later, we see Hermes (Alexandre Constantino, who almost resembled the late leader of South Africa, Nelson Mandela) helps him find his way.  The conductor goes off with a woman named Mira (Lourdes de Oliveria). She displays some funny banter with the marriage license official, but Orfeu thinks otherwise.

In another scene, Mira pretends to be like the late Whitney Houston, circa 1987 with her unique dancing style.  She agrees to loan him some money.  For 100 cruzeiros (or about $110 in that period of time), Orfeu purchases a guitar.  Euridice (played masterfully by Marpessa Dawn, 1934-2008) is a country girl and tags along with Serafina (Lea Garcia) to find food.

As Orfeu sings to a pair of young boys the song “Manha de Carnaval”, he is seen walking by a rooster, a cat, and two ducks.  I kid you not, the animals definitely had fun in the film.

He also sings to the boys, “Dawning of a New One”–another classic tune.

As the central themes play out in this original ancient Greek myth, some misunderstandings take place in the days leading up to Carnaval as the song “Me For You, You For Me” plays repeatedly.

About the 48 minute mark enters a reaper in dark clothing.  He is seen inside the shacks of the depot and then goes away for a short time.  As a little couple is then seen fighting next door, Eurdicie and Orfeu end up not getting too much sleep inside their favelas (which was a popular form of living as 80% of people lived in the country, unlike in today’s Brazil where 80% of the people live in cities).

The final 20 minutes shows Carnaval, pre-Sambadrome era.  It takes place on a very busy street in Rio, as samba schools perform and the reaper lurks in the crowd.

Inside a darkened train depot, Euridice is being chased by the reaper.  But by the time Orfeu shuts off the power to the depot, the electrical force is too strong for Euridice to overcome and she dies on the spot.  We are then taken to a Ubamba legend inside some mosque as we see their Mass for the Dead.  Albeit there was a lot of cigar smoking in that tragic scene, Orfeu is hearing voices inside his head.  He thought it was coming from Euridice, who was instead being stored in cold storage.  It turned out to be an older woman, aged 65 to 70 making those brief demands.  Hermes then gives Orfeu a check, and then he heads on his way back to the countryside.

As Orfeu then walks on the mountain, carrying Euridice inside a frozen chamber, Serefina finds a rock and in a similar tragic ending like the 2005 horror movie that featured all reality TV stars, The Scorned–Orefu dies, similar to the awful circumstances that Raina did to Matt (Trish Schneider and Bob Guiney, both ABC’s The Bachelor).  A boy sings “Samba de Orefu” to a girl as the movie closes.  Sadly, there are no end credits to the film.

Yes, Black Orpheus has its’ fun moments and it has its’ dark moments.

Overall, the Criterion Collection is a masterpiece.

Top Four Reasons To Own This Film

And there are plenty of bonus features in the Criterion Collection (the artwork you see above applies for both the DVD as well as the Blu-Ray).  The film is complete with superb English subtitles, and other nice features including:

  • A trailer in color, lasting 4 minutes and 17 seconds
  • Two separate B&W interviews from French television:

Director Marcel Camus (1912-1982) who in 1959 stated that he, “waited to film for 7 months” due to distributor issues.

Actor Marpessa Dawn (who was born near a farm in Pittsburgh) in a separate interview from 1963 became a dancer before turning up acting.  She would later land small parts in Paris and the United Kingdom.  Her big quote on being recognized was simply, “Star sounds so superficial.”

Ironically, Dawn would pass away 42 days after Breno Mello, who was the central focus on the major documentary that involved a few historians and famed Brazilian music author Ruy Castro.

Columnist Robert Stam said of the movie, and I quote from the 2005 documentary:

“It almost felt like a Frenchmen describing baseball.”

The documentary shows Breno walking around on the exact spots where the movie was filmed.  Interspersed with classic scenes, the only location that still looks the same today is the train depot. Music historian Gary Giddins does a nice job explaining the evolution of bossa nova as a movement, and shows the evolution of when Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto blossomed in the United States during the 1960’s, the first major strike against the Fab Four in the Beatles.  The documentary also shows some modern bars and locals singing some of the songs to adoring crowds.

Also being interviewed is Patricia Franca.  She starred in a 2004 remake of this film, but with a different twist.  In scenes that might relate more to your local cable Public Access channel where a good guy is being chased by a bunch of bad guys and stands up to keep her woman happy, while at the same time hoping to live happily ever after.  At least, that’s what I remember most of my friends from high school doing  in two really cool movies during my youth.

*************************************************************************

Overall, this movie is definite thumbs up, five-star material.

Buy it for the music, keep it for the cool scenes, and savor each and every moment of the really neat bonus features.

As I said at the very beginning of this blog review, that movie ties in perfectly to what American Thanksgiving is really all about:

Life, Love, Spirit, and Happiness.

In my world, we are truly thankful we all have our Health and great Shelter to keep us from not shivering at night.

We love our families and friends unconditionally, albeit in this online social media dominated world–it makes that statement a bit more difficult to achieve unlike with prior generations.

We display spirit, not just in our current dreams and ambitions, but also remembering those who we used to share past Thanksgiving celebrations with.

In my case, I go back to the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when my mother’s dad would bring his wife and drive about six blocks to pick up my grandfather and great aunt, with pumpkin pie firmly in tow.  30 minutes and crossing two train tracks later, I would see them hit the door just as CBS began their sports coverage when The NFL Today would sometimes show off a cornucopia inside their old New York studio.

I would help them take off their jackets and place their scarves on our coat rack.  My grandfather would then be seen inserting an anti-freeze type liquid into our really tall group of bushes which was attached to part of our front yard.  A few minutes after he put his empty gallons that housed the liquids into his trunk, we would get to talking about the previous night’s lottery drawings.  “I only had two on a line once” and “When are we going to win the big one?” were often common themes leading into our early afternoon dinners.

The Chicago Bears appeared in the old Pontiac Silverdome in 1991, a game the Bears should have won–but didn’t.  I recall turning my head just after swallowing some stuffing to see Da Coach, Mike Ditka nearly chew out some officials over a blown call.  I really thought then and there that things would be different.  Calm and cool Wayne Fontes and Detroit came up huge, and you know the rest of the story.

This leads to my last point, Happiness.

We are happy for many different reasons.  I am so happy to have such awesome MPB’s and other artists to chat with on a periodic basis, whom I can safely call as true online friends.

I recall saying in one of my first blogs that if I had an All-Star team, it would be awfully difficult to narrow it down to just nine ladies.  Every person that I profile is very good in their own individual ways, and for that–I wish everyone in the United States including Fabiana Passoni, Sherie Julianne, Lori Carsillo, and others a very Happy and Safe Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

As I say around my household, it is tempo de crise crise devora devora, or

Gobble Gobble, Crunch Crunch Time.

Movie Break: Casino Royale gets more wacky and ridiculous the more times you watch

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Image courtesy of scifi-movies.com

Tigers jumping on cars.  Men throwing medicine balls hoping to catch one, and survive in the process.

Tons of ladies hoping to win James Bond’s affection (and his taste in clothes, for all of the women reading this particular movie review).

The best way to point out this review is that there were plenty of elements used in London, both at the expansive MGM studios and especially in the maze scenes that were shot at the basement of the Playboy Club.

Peter Sellers and David Niven did a stand-up performance, while close behind Ursula Andress and a bevy of other ladies trying their best to do anything to sway the men into their way of thinking.

In other words, you would have to watch most of the 2 hours, 10 minutes (not 2 hours, 17 minutes as the back of the DVD cover incorrectly stated).

After many trips to see mazes, and a guy on horseback traveling into a spaceship that would be transported via water preserver just to make it to the secret lair…the women did not appear fully nude at any point.

There were plenty of interesting parts, but most of all–expect to see a very zany, wacky, corny, and slapstick film that reaches its’ true climax in the final 20 minutes–with the appearance of doubles appearing as famous world leaders and the arrival of cowboys on horseback as if Rawhide was being transported to a different stage.

Even a bunch of wild Western men were dancing after a spinning roulette wheel was accidentally spewing laughing gas amongst the patrons.

But the real kicker came with one other guy pretending to accidentally swallow a pill that was, “similar to aspirin, looks like aspirin, but does not taste at all like aspirin.”

The poor guy had to burp 400 times before the casino blew up and we saw the key characters appear in heaven to close out the movie.

But at least, in which the characters did not have to take themselves too seriously–there was the Burt Bacharach moment on Chapter 10 with the over 60 references a minute playing of “The Look of Love.”

The woman woos the guy, they kiss…and fun moments happen after that.

I am pretty certain Diana Krall took that moment as a pure point of reference when she did her 2001 smooth jazz album, of which you can find in a past blog for when I talked about how Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 made that song an art form.

Overall, it was a very nice movie.  A nearly 20 minute behind the scenes bonus featurette is included along with the 1954 B&W classic play that spawned on this movie.

**********************************************************************************

Yes, I realize it has been a while since my last regular post due to the never ending action that was the FIFA World Cup throughout Brazil.

Anyways, I plan to profile the brother of one of my very famous artists when I think of summer next week (albeit the weather on July 15 and 16 felt more like college football weather in the United States on a typical Saturday in late September).

Throughout August and September, please look for a different series of albums to be referred to simply as “Rare Gems”.  These were albums that not only rare in the general scheme of things, but in my personal quest to add to my Brazilian jazz collection–it seemed I had to do more than just span the globe to find them.  No arm wrangling was involved, but basically–it took a great effort on my part and I hope that my next set of cool blog entries will inspire you to try and add to your collections.

So glad to finally be saying this, but see you all next week!

Movie Break: Get Yourself A College Girl Is A Heart Pumping, Toe-Tapping Good Time

Original movie poster art courtesy of soundtrackcollector.com

Original movie poster art courtesy of soundtrackcollector.com

Albeit the movie is set in December as a Christmas going away party type of theme, the MGM/Four Leaf Production simply titled, Get Yourself A College Girl really tackled the notion of why women in that period scoffed of themselves being treated as mere sex objects.

But it is way more to the movie than that.

There is music, and lots of it from very popular acts from 1964:

  • Dave Clark Five from Great Britain
  • The Animals from Hawaii
  • Jimmy Smith and his Trio
  • Freddie Bell, Roberta Linn, and the Bell Boys

The movie starts out with a short ballet lesson at the Wyndham College for Girls.  Theresa “Terry” Taylor (played by future Match Game mainstay panelist Mary Ann Mobley) gets the class to get their groove thing on and dance the day away, so-to speak.  The instructor of the class manages to flash a brief smile.

A few minutes into the film, Gary Underwood (played by Chad Everett), founder of his own publishing company attempts to call Terry–but instead ends up speaking with the Dean.  The call goes nowhere.

The majority of the film takes place at the Go-Go Club, and this going away party is something to behold.

The dancing continues with the Dave Clark Five singing a slow ballad, then some guys try to woo a married woman (big time no-no then, and even bigger red flag in present times).  The Animals then come on the scene with “Blue, Blue Feeling”.  17 minutes later, we hear Terry sing the song title with very catchy lyrics.  Perhaps the early editors of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue might have planted those first seeds well in what would become for them a multi-million dollar enterprise by the time Kathy Ireland’s images were plastered on many men’s bedrooms and college dorm rooms in the late 1980’s.

Unfortunately, word leaks out to the Board of Trustees and they criticize Terry big time.  Fortunately, some of the faculty come to her aid.  As the Board members leave one by one, they give Terry a big-time cold shoulder.  Later in the film, we find out that the Board rescinded Terry’s expulsion letter that would have prevented her from graduating with her friends the following spring.

Another key player in the movie is State Senator Hubert Morrison (played to a T by William Waterman).  At first, he was not convinced on why women were starting to become independent thinkers, let alone budding sex symbols.  But as the scene shifts to the ski lodge where the bus dropped off the students for Winter break, Marge (Joan O’Brien) and Sue Ann (Chris Noel) end up sticking together no matter what.  And yes, Sue does don a period bikini for about 40 seconds for the guys looking to find this film on DVD.

Gary’s manager who has a way with French named Ray (played by Paul Todd) tries his best to woo the ladies.  At first, he succeeds but later ends up getting himself slapped in the face.  Not good.

His comment of, “I didn’t marry a girl, I married a censor” might have confused some people at the time.  But again, there is no nudity in this film nor any major violence–PG rated for sure.

Then we finally get our Brazilian jazz connection with Astrud Gilberto holding up some sheet music to sing her all-time greatest hit, “The Girl from Ipanema.”  Stan Getz performs admirably on the sax, while the ladies are sitting there and smiling their appreciation for when this was the era that bossa nova hit its’ true peak.

We also see Getz and his band perform a little sax inbetween some more weird dialogue between the guys before we go back for…you guessed it, yet more dancing!

The Standells and the Rhythm Masters were next to hit the stage (what was it with those white hats?), then Jimmy Smith did his masterful organ rendition of a song commonly heard in NBA arenas and when the Harlem Globetrotters make their signature entrance on basketball courts around the world.

The Senator then tries to get along with Terry (strange, but true).  Even stranger was at the 55 minute mark was the Senator having his true Steve Lyons moment *.

* Not to sound embarrassing, but the one-time utility player that once played all nine positions in an exhibition game for the 1990 Chicago White Sox had his infamous moment occur at the old Tiger Stadium in Detroit.  Nicknamed “Psycho”, Lyons legged out an infield hit in a game against the Tigers.  With first base coach at the time Sammy Ellis simply nodding his head, he inexplicably tried to adjust his belt buckle but briefly the camera caught a glimpse of his shorts.  Can you guess then how embarrassed he felt?  ESPN’s SportsCenter ate that moment up for years to come.

Sadly, with his pants down–an eager woman snaps a quick pic with her camera so she could rush off to the area paper to get this juicy gossip heading into their election year published the next day.

Terry then gets into a brief skiing accident, but I am sure it was staged so she wouldn’t get hurt (keep in mind, the era of liability wasn’t too much of a bother back in 1964 except for a few stuntpeople).  Gary then tries to trip over Terry before heading back to the ski lodge, just some playful banter between man and woman–nothing more than that.

More of the Dave Clark Five and their hit, “Thinking of You, Baby” along with Freddie Bell and Roberta Lynn with the Bell Boys doing the sappy, catchy number, “Talk About Love” were all part of a pledge drive that was carried on local television.

Nobody called during the first two songs.  But suddenly, the proceeds started to roll in and as the Animals performed the closing number, they exceeded their goal!

Even though this movie that runs about 86 minutes does not have any chapter titles or even a true bonus featurette except for the actual trailer done with the familiar dust lines all around–the remastered version of Get Yourself A College Girl is indeed a fun movie, no matter what time of year.

And I usually think of Easter as both a happy and fun time of year, so why not give it some props?

From Chris Noel’s character talking about bikini sizes to and the overeagerness of the guys trying to run a business (we even get to see Sue Ann in a Bettie Page type portrait, how cute) and also seeing the women question why roles they really felt comfortable doing after graduating from college (as so we thought).

And so, with all apologies to the late great movie critic Roger Ebert, I give this movie 3 1/2 stars.  Somewhere in the heavens, I saw even the late Gene Siskel flash his trademark thumbs up as well.

Next week, I will be profiling an up-and-coming MPB artist looking to make a name for herself in Gisele de Santi.  Her sound is remarkable and hopefully this is just the beginning for this fresh sensation.

Please have a nice and safe holiday weekend, no matter how you celebrate (I am like one of our followers, I get to celebrate twice on the same day!)  More good music to come in the weeks and days leading up to the “other” most popular sporting event outside of the United States, soccer/futbol’s FIFA World Cup.   Take care.

Through it all, Gal Costa has proven to be a Master Composer

No album cover was available online for her 1992 album simply titled Gal but,

Image courtesy of my own personal collection

Image courtesy of my own personal collection

inside the songs she sings are very sweet.

Starting with a short interlude, the pace picks up on Track 2, “Revolta Olodum” .  The next two tracks very similar and frenetic in pace, while Track 5 is the true keeper with her English take on the Cole Porter classic tune, “The Laziest Gal in Town.”  By combining both very steady beats and sensual rhythms, her voice on that song is like a combination of Fabiana Passoni meeting Diana Krall meeting Lani Hall post-Sergio Mendes fame, in terms of having a very low pitch in their voices.

Plenty of drums on Track 9 on “Saudacao Aos Povos Africanos (translated simply as a “Salute to African People.”)  Following another short 30 second interlude which sounds almost like your typical airline commercial, it is back to the slower, refined pace with Track 11, “Caminhos Cruzados” (or simply translated as, “Corners.”)  A few more scat-like rhythms lead to the final 40 seconds saluting her homeland.

Just like my headline said, this artist definitely belongs in the similar breath among great female Brazilian jazz artists–about on par with the likes of trailblazers in Astrud Gilberto, Elis Regina, Lani Hall, Karen Phillip of Sergio Mendes Brasil ’66 fame.

With spring eventually to make its’ belated entrance once again to the northern half of the United States, I plan to talk about some springlike albums in my weekly entries throughout April.

Also, I plan to take a brief break from the CD reviews as I will dive into my third installment of the “Movie Break” series which profiles a Brazilian soundtrack.  Saluting its’ 50th anniversary here in 2014 is when everybody’s “Girl from Ipanema” Astrud Gilberto sang her signature tune with Stan Getz as part of a Who’s Who of music stars during the 1964 movie, Get Yourself A College Girl.  This movie also featured cameos by The Standells, The Jimmy Smith Trio, The Animals (I kid you not on the group’s title), Freddie Bell with Roberta Lynn and the Bell Boys, and of course, The Dave Clark Five.

Look for that during the week leading up to the Easter holiday.

But of course, my next blog will briefly talk about the Brazilian Fun Jazz Final four.  Who will make it and whose name in popularity bit the dust?  Just like Louisville bowing out late to their in-state rivals in Kentucky on Friday night, we will have a new champion as Fabiana Passoni graciously passed the virtual torch to Gisele de Santi.

And that, my friends, is not an upcoming April Fool’s joke.  Hope to see you then.

Movie Break: Next Stop Wonderland spans many varying degrees of emotions

Image (slightly different than the DVD cover) found at thehut.com

Image (slightly different than the DVD cover) found at thehut.com

The scene is Boston Zoo, 1998.

Hope Davis plays a hopeless romantic, and throughout the film’s first 18 minutes–we see mishap after mishap:

She breaks up with her boyfriend (we presume), and after he explains about “Point 4” on a VHS tape, she eventually breaks the tape by throwing it to the ground.

At her job, she and her co-workers dress up for Halloween.  Erin is the wicked witch.

By the time the kids react, they are both:  a) stunned, and b) some of them cry.

Next scene, we see her mother (played by Holland Taylor) who is a matchmaker and supposedly hooks up with another guy.  The guy enters the conversation over drinks.  Apparently, the guy is not convinced * and he seems a bit disinterested.

* Note to guys:  At least, stay with the program.  There is always a way to wiggle your way out, if the time is right to do so–except if you are further along in the dating process.

Another scene has her in a vintage bookstore.  She drops a book and the book owner asks her to “not close the book, but rather read a sentence, a paragraph” from that page she accidentally opened.

In it, she read a classic definition of solitude–as more Brazilian jazz plays:

First, Astrud Gilberto–then Joao Gilberto.

Then, her mother is in London talking to her on the phone and showing off a Personals ad.  Erin reads it word for word, thinking that what her mother wrote was just plain dumb.

(Again, this was before the Internet and online dating became the rage, so please take it as is).

We then zoom in on a zoology class and then see Erin join three other people over drinks in a bar.

“First guy who scores gets 200 bucks”, as four other guys get a chance to read over the ad and then discuss strategy–including some parts that are definitely rated R material (hence, the suggestive language part of the film that some people should become fully aware of when watching this film).

Usually, Sundance selections usually take the viewer into materials either seldom seem in regular Hollywood films, or taking storylines in the news that are only known to regional audiences (or in the case of foreign countries, unique to that country).  The only reason that I could come up with why this film won the 1998 Sundance Award was its’ very dry humor.

Some people may like it, I found this movie to be a bit on the fair side.  It has its’ moments, and there are some moments that either will make you think to yourself, “I have seen this act before”, or “Didn’t that just happen to me over a week ago?”

A newspaper headline follows a local news story about vandalism that took place near the Boston Zoo.  A different addition was to be added next to the zoo, but the idea did not pass committee (supposedly, again I am just drawing general facts from the movie).

Another guy mentions the key line in the film at the 34 minute mark:

“The real mystery is, what keeps two people together after they meet?”

But somehow, the videotape did not break.  Her boyfriend rambles on, and the old phone messaging device goes crazy.  Erin tries to stop it, but she cannot unplug it.

The phone operator talks about “inserting your personal code”, too ugly!

Moving on…

More Brazilian jazz plays (sounds like “Baia” by Walter Wanderley in the background) as we hear parts of 64 guys answering her ad!

(Insert funny joke here…)

About the 40 minute mark, Erin meets her first “date”….

Both people look timid, and the guy tries to use his own dry sense of humor and seems to be going off the deep end, just a little bit…

The VP of Manufacturing guy, nice credentials–except he talks a little too fast.

Then, he barely takes a breath between sentences.  (Not a good thing!)

Another guy talks about other a few subjects too taboo for this blog space.

We go back to the first guy and he says that he, “collects South American art…but I was down there for a conference.”

Some other guy then asks for Erin’s mother’s number after she let the cat out of the bag.

OK.  Now, we are getting somewhere.  Took forty-four minutes for me to get a full laugh.

Next “date” we see is a highly intellectual man.  “He says, you create your own luck.”

The 50th minute into the film, and Erin says the story of most single people’s lives–as we see her sitting on a park bench as the fall foliage begins to turn and a few seconds later talking about the time her father took her to Ireland:

“I am not lonely.  I am not lonely when I am at home.

You get lonely in a crowded room, or subway.”

The next song that plays is “Mas Que Nada”, the original version in the 56th minute as Alan gets into a brief fight with two other guys outside a fancy restaurant.

Two minutes later–inside the restaurant, Erin’s co-worker tries again to convince Alan that she was “his tutor”, which he simply denied as false.  Alan comes back with presenting a “low key” approach, not a full scale date.  The woman agrees to see a whale do a bunch of tricks with two other guys as part of the class!  How cool is that.

Sparks fly in the 71st minute, so at least there is a happy ending.

But somehow, we end up right back were we started–aboard the train.

Too bad the cab driver got stuck in traffic that is the near equivalent of rush hour over the Kennedy Expressway the day before Thanksgiving in Chicago.

The final minutes lead into one guy singing on a plane about dreams and seeing them come true, ala going to Brazil.

The last underlying message about consistency is talked about at the end with the infamous/famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.

A nice view of Boston Harbor is our final major scene, as Alan Gelfant walks side by side with Erin Castleton.

At least, it was very cool to hear Bebel Gilberto closing out with a song in the credits, “Batacuda.”

It was a fair movie, but this would be a decent movie to watch if life was throwing you a bunch of curveballs.  Then, you can follow it up by playing some Patricia Talem or Bianca Rossini.

The Miramax release from Robbins Entertainment, Inc. was not bad, but not great either.

No bonus features were included, nor there were any chapter titles in the DVD menu.

I tried to think of ten different titles and none of them worked.

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To all of my American readers, especially the new followers–

Please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Cranberry sauce recipe optional, just fyi.

See you all next week with another cool CD selection.