Friday, June 27, 2014

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Month (July 2014): Rosa Passos

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Month (July 2014): Rosa Passos

Rosa Passos

In her native Brazil, Rosa Passos is known and loved as "the female version of João Gilberto." For a singer/songwriter who carries the soulful cool of bossa nova into a new age, there can be no higher cumpliment. Mingling the classics of Gilberto, Jobim, Barroso and other masters of Brazilian songs with her own enchanting works, Passos sings in a sweet, warm, totally-in-tune voice that the Los Angeles Times has hailed as "sounding a bit like the legendary Elis Regina but with the rhythmic articulation of Ella Fitzgerald."

Rosa Passos was Born and raised surrounded by music in the city of Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia in Brazil and the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture.

Stimulated by her parents, Rosa was already a promising pianist when she was five. As a teenager her father introduced her to a collection of early recordings from João Gilberto and Tom Jobim. Inspired by the movie 'Black Orpheus' (1959) and its soundtrack, she replaced the piano with the guitar, and since then she has been completely dedicated to her art of composing and singing. When she was 15, she had already appeared successfully on television in Salvador.

You will see the resemblance to João Gilberto, in fact, his music was a strong influence on her early years and made a lasting impression.

In 1972 her composition "Mutilados" won the first prize in the University Festival promoted by Aratu TV in the state of Bahia.

In 1979 Passos released her first record - the “Recriação” album, containing her own compositions with the co-composer Fernando de Oliveira, who has been her constant partner.

After taking several years off to devote herself to her husband and children, she returned to performing and recording in 1985, jump-starting a career that has been on the upswing ever since.

In 1991, Rosa released her first CD “Curare” - a refined record consisting of Brazilian Popular Music standards by Tom Jobim, Ary Barroso, Carlos Lyra, Johnny Alf, Bororó , Vinícius de Moraes and others.

In 1996 she released the “Pano Pra Manga” CD, with most songs composed by Fernando and her . Rosa's compositions have also attracted the interest of the American singer Kenny Rankin, who in 1997 recorded the songs "Verão" (Those Eyes) and "Outono" (Stay), both of them with the vocal participation of Rosa Passos.

In September of 1996 Oscar Castro-Neves - a renowned Brazilian musician living in the United States - invited Rosa to participate in a Brazilian night of Jazz at the Bowl, held at the Hollywood Bowl. Since her american debut, Rosa Passos has developed an ever growing international following.

Also in 1996, the singer/songwriter performed in Japan for the first time with saxophonist Sadao Watanabe which led her to successful appearances in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay and the U.S. In the years since, Passos has toured Japan five times, collaborated with Ivan Lins and Chucho Valdez in a memorable Cubadisco show in Havana.

In 1999, she was invited to perform during the 50th anniversary celebration of German Democracy, joining Paquito D’Rivera and the WDR Big Band for shows in Bonn and Cologne that featured her own songs and classic brazilian tunes. The same year she performed at the Jazz Festival Bern.

In Brazil, where she has built an impressive catalog of recordings, Rosa Passos has been one of the stars of producer Almir Chediak’s “Words and Melody” project, a series of recordings honoring the legacies of the great brazilian songwriters. Her discs of the songs of Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso were instant hits, in Brazil and internationally, featuring unique and innovative versions of such worldwide hits as Ary Barroso’s “Aquarela do Brasil” and Jobim’s “Desafinado”, “Samba de uma nota só” (One Note Samba) and “Garota de Ipanema”(The Girl from Ipanema).

In August 2001 Passos performed in New Orleans (voice and guitar), from which arose an invitation to record a new cd, “Me and My Heart”, released in America in 2002, with the participation of bass player Paulo Paulelli.

In 2002, the “Azul” CD was released in Brazil , gathering her favorite songs by Gilberto Gil, João Bosco, and Djavan with special arrangements. In the same year she wowed a packed crowd at New York’s Lincoln Center for a “Tribute to Elis Regina” show.

Closing the year 2002, Rosa Passos returned to the United States to record with Ron Carter, one of the dominant bassists in jazz for over 40 years, her first CD with American-based jazz musicians entitled “Entre Amigos” (Among Friends).

Her 2003 schedule includes three presentations in Russia, one with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. This year Rosa Passos will also tour throughout the United States with the pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano.

Also in 2003, Rosa Passos joined the double-Grammy-winning “Obrigado Brazil” by famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma , with two songs by Tom Jobim ("Chega de Saudade" and "Amor em Paz"). Following the release of “Obrigado Brazil” , the singer/songwriter joined YoYo Ma and the other musicians from the record on a critically acclaimed world tour leading to its sequel in 2004 “Yo-Yo Ma Obrigado Brazil Live in Concert” with Jazz clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and percussionist Cyro Baptista.

"Perhaps best of all, singer/guitarist Rosa Passos’ sweet-voiced renderings of Jobim were marvelous updatings of classic bossa nova, superbly demonstrating the subtle interplay between the voice and guitar this is the foundation of this enduringly appealing genre," the Los Angeles Times wrote, when the Obrigado Brazil tour played the Hollywood Bowl.

In 2004 Rosa Passos makes her Sony Classical solo debut with her album “Amorosa”, a heartfelt tribute to the legendary Joao Gilberto and his landmark 1977 album entitled “Amorosa”. Passos’ special guest is the french musician and bossa nova singer Henri Salvador, besides the musicians of “Obrigado Brazil” . To follow the album’s release Rosa and her fantastic brazilian jazz band that features Paulo Paulelli on five string upright bass, were engaged in an international and successful tour.

With “Obrigado Brazil” and “Amorosa” Rosa gets her first significant promotion in America. It even inspired Diana Krall to include two of its songs on her album ‘The look of Love’.

In 2006 , back from the international tour, Rosa was approached by Telarc to release her first CD solo (voice/guitar) entitled simply "Rosa" and invited to perform for the first time alone in the stage of Zanken Hall - at Carnegie Hall NYC, a dream predicted by her own father, followed by several performances in jazz festivals throughout Europe in the summer.

“As much as I enjoyed Amorosa, Passos' CD simply titled ‘Rosa’ (Telarc), with just her own guitar backing, is so intimate it sounds like she's singing to you only. Again, her voice is warm and the atmosphere is thick with intimacy” said Don Albert of in South Africa.

After that , Rosa comes back to Brazil to perform again in her own country in the event of “Rosa” release that includes a sold out 2-weeks tour in January of 2007 at Fecap Theater - São Paulo.

Rosa is working through her next concerts and has a scheduled DVD recording expected to happen in september/2007 together with Jazz Symphonic Orchestra in São Paulo . The DVD is a tribute to the great Diva of Brazil 'Elis Regina' who happens to be the inspiration for Rosa herself.

"Nobody plays bossa nova like Rosa Passos since the master João Gilberto," El País proclaimed. All About Jazz wrote of Passos, "She has done what so many vocalists have attempted since the days of Astrud Gilberto, but failed to do: she’s made the bossa nova sexy again ... Her voice, which is at once exotic and strangely familiar, is magnificent. Her interpretations of various bossa nova chestnuts are sublime. She takes these over-familiar songs and makes them sound brand new again."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Month (June 2014): Gary Burton

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Month (June 2014): Gary Burton

Born in 1943 and raised in Indiana, Gary Burton taught himself to play the vibraphone and, at the age of 17, made his recording debut in Nashville, Tennessee, with guitarists Hank Garland and Chet Atkins. Two years later, Burton left his studies at Berklee College of Music to join George Shearing and subsequently Stan Getz, with whom he worked from 1964-1966.As a member of Getz’s quartet, Burton won Down Beat magazine’s Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition award in 1965. By the time he left Getz to form his own quartet in 1967, Burton had also recorded three albums under his name for RCA. Borrowing rhythms and sonorities from rock music, while maintaining jazz’s emphasis on improvisation and harmonic complexity, Burton’s first quartet attracted large audiences from both sides of the jazz-rock spectrum. Such albums as Duster and Lofty Fake Anagram established Burton and his band as progenitors of the jazz fusion phenomenon.

During his subsequent association with the ECM label (1973-1988) the Burton Quartet expanded to include the young Pat Metheny on guitar, and the band began to explore a repertoire of modern compositions. In the ’70s, Burton also began to focus on more intimate contexts for his music. His 1971 album Alone at Last, a solo vibraphone concert recorded at the 1971 Montreux Jazz Festival, was honored with his first Grammy Award. Burton also turned to the rarely heard duo format, recording with bassist Steve Swallow, guitarist Ralph Towner, and most notably with pianist Chick Corea, thus cementing a long personal and professional relationship that has garnered an additional four Grammy Awards.

Also in the ’70s, Burton began his music education career with Berklee College of Music in Boston. Burton began as a teacher of percussion and improvisation at Berklee in 1971. In 1985 he was named Dean of Curriculum. In 1989, he received an honorary doctorate of music from the college, and in 1996, he was appointed Executive Vice President, responsible for overseeing the daily operation of the college.

After eight years at RCA Victor, five at Atlantic Records, and sixteen at ECM Records (resulting in two more Grammy awards in 1979 and 1981), Burton began recording for GRP Records in 1988. In 1990, he paired up again with his former protege Pat Metheny for Reunion, which landed the number one spot on Billboard magazine’s jazz chart. After recording a total of eight CD’s for GRP, Burton began his current label affiliation with Concord Records. Departure (Gary Burton & Friends) was released in 1997 as well as Native Sense, another duet collaboration with Chick Corea, which garnered Gary‘s fourth Grammy Award in 1998. Also in 1997, Burton recorded his second collection of tango music, Astor Piazzolla Reunion, featuring the top tango musicians of Argentina, followed by Libertango in 2000, another Piazzolla project. His 1998 Concord release, Like Minds, an all-star hit featuring his frequent collaborators Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland, was also honored with a Grammy win, Burton’s fifth. Gary’s vibraphone tribute CD, For Hamp, Red, Bags and Cal, was released in March 2001 and was honored with Gary’s 12th Grammy nomination (to date he has a total of 15 Grammy nominations). His 2002 release was a unique project with Makoto Ozone, Gary‘s pianist collaborator of the past twenty years. For Virtuosi the pair explored the improvisational possibilities of classical themes including works by Brahms, Scarlatti, Ravel, Barber and others. In an unusual move, the Recording Academy nominated Virtuosi in the Grammy‘s Classical music category, a unique honor for Gary and Makoto.

As Gary announced his retirement from Berklee College of Music in 2003 after 33 years at the college, he formed a new band and began touring regularly. The “Generations” band featured a line-up of talented young musicians including then sixteen-year old guitarist Julian Lage and Russian-born pianist Vadim Nevelovskyi. Gary recorded two CDs with the group titled Generation and Next Generation and the band toured steadily from 2003 through mid-2006.

Since then, Gary has focused his recording and performing efforts on collaborations, with old friends and new, including tours and recordings with Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Makoto Ozone, Spanish pianist/composer Polo Orti, and French accordionist Richard Galliano. Armistad Suite with Polo Orti and the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra was released in spring 2007. L’hymne a L’amour with Richard Galliano was released on the Camjazz label in August 2007. The double-CD live concert recording with Chick Corea, The New Crystal Silence, came out in 2008, resulting in the sixth Grammy for Gary Burton at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Chick and Gary toured full-time from September 2006 through spring 2008, and continued off and on playing concerts in the USA and Europe in 2009.

Next came collaborative project Quartet Live, reprising the Gary Burton Quartet of the 1970‘s with Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow and Antonio Sanchez. Having already toured in Japan, USA, and Europe, this group made their third tour with performances in the USA and Canada in June, 2009. Plans are already in place to re-unite and record and tour again in the near future. Meanwhile, Gary toured again with Chick Corea in 2010-2011.

June 2011 saw the release of Common Ground, Gary‘s first release on Mack Avenue Records featuring the New Gary Burton Quartet. The new group reunites the vibist with guitar star Julian Lage with the addition of drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Scott Colley. The group toured touring throughout 2011, and will be touring again this year (Europe in May, 2013, USA in September/October) and releasing their second CD, Guided Tour, scheduled for release in August 2013.

Meanwhile, Gary‘s latest duet collaboration with Chick Corea, Hot House (2012), on the Concord Jazz label, has been released world-wide and won Gary his 7th Grammy Award in the Best Improvised Solo category.