Akira Tana | Jazzanova

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Jazz: Bossa Nova Brazilian: Samba Moods: Type: Vocal
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by Akira Tana

Alluring and romantic vocals on Brazilian and Latin songs featuring vocalists, Claudia Villela, Maria Volonte, Sandy Cressman, Claudio Amaral, Carla Helmbrecht, and Jackie Ryan with guest soloists Branford Marsalis and Arturo Sandoval. Can't lose!
Genre: Jazz: Bossa Nova
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Aguas De Marco (feat. Claudia Villela & Claudio Amaral)
4:16 $0.99
2. Love Dance (feat. Carla Helmbrecht)
5:54 $0.99
3. Chega De Saudade (feat. Maria Volonte & Jackie Ryan)
4:54 $0.99
4. Bilhete (feat. Sandy Cressman)
4:14 $0.99
5. Corcovado (feat. Carla Helmbrecht)
5:46 $0.99
6. Condename a Callar (feat. Maria Volonte)
3:29 $0.99
7. Waiting for Angela (feat. Branford Marsalis & Claudia Villela)
3:52 $0.99
8. Jangada (feat. Claudia Villela)
5:33 $0.99
9. Carminhos Cruzados (feat. Sandy Cressman)
4:53 $0.99
10. Aquele Frevo Axe (feat. Claudio Amaral)
3:47 $0.99
11. Por Causa De Voce (feat. Jackie Ryan)
3:47 $0.99
12. Diride (feat. Claudia Villela & Ricardo Peixoto)
4:28 $0.99
13. La Gloria Eres Tu (feat. Arturo Sandoval & Maria Volonte)
4:21 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
AKIRA TANA, an elite jazz drummer since the mid-1970s, has been immersed in the verdant hothouse of Brazil’s surging rhythms and sensuous melodies his entire career. His new album JAZZaNOVA, re ects an abiding passion kindled by his formative experiences with some of Brazilian jazz’s foundational gures. It’s a treasure trove of Brazilian riches, with beautifully crafted arrangements designed to shine a lustrous new light on classic material.
Featuring a cast of top-shelf Bay Area players, JAZZaNOVA was designed to showcase a superlative cast of singers and instrumentalists interpreting some of the Brazilian Songbook’s de nitive standards and lesser known gems, with a couple of songs en Español included for good measure. Saxophonist BRANFORD MARSALIS or Cuban-born trumpeter ARTURO SANDOVAL contribute vivid solos on almost every track, providing incisive commentary for the six extraordinary vocalists.
Throughout the session, Tana renders the various grooves with taste and an unerring ear for textural support. As authoritative as he is behind the drum kit, he’s emerged in recent decades as a savvy producer who can turn a concept into a singular musical communion. With JAZZaNOVA, he’s staked a rightful claim to the Brazilian jazz canon, joined by a redoubtable cast of collaborators.
vocals Claudio Amaral, Sandy Cressman, Carla Helmbrecht, Jackie Ryan, Claudia Villela, Maria Volonté
special guests Branford Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval piano & Fender Rhodes Peter Horvath
acoustic & electric guitar Ricardo Peixoto
bass Gary Brown
percussion Michael Shapiro drums Akira Tana Produced by Akira Tana


The Brazilian Songbook is a vast treasure trove that has proven irresistible to jazz musicians seeking luscious melodies, sensuous grooves and invitingly familiar harmonic forms. Even before bossa nova became an international phenomenon in the late 1950s, American jazz artists had started exploring folkloric Brazilian styles. ese days, the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Ivan Lins, and Luiz Bonfá are inextricably woven into the standard jazz repertoire, a natural synthesis that gets a startlingly beautiful treatment in JAZZaNOVA.
Under the savvy direction of drum-master Akira Tana, JAZZaNOVA brings together a superlative cast of singers and instrumentalists to explore some of the Brazilian Songbook’s best loved standards and some lesser known gems, with a couple of songs en Español included for good measure. Supple and deeply versed in Brazilian idioms, Tana’s band features Peter Horvath on piano and Fender Rhodes; Rio-born guitarist Ricardo Peixoto, an invaluable part of Northern California’s Brazilian music scene; Airto Moreira and Flora Purim collaborator Gary Brown on bass; and percussion master Michael Spiro, a leading force on the West Coast Latin music scene for more than three decades.
With either saxophonist Branford Marsalis or Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval contributing incisive solos on almost every track, JAZZaNOVA features an embarrassment of instrumental riches, but with six extraordinary vocalists on board, the album’s concept is based on matching singers and songs. It is an eclectic cast, united by the fact that each possesses an utterly personal sound and approach.
The album opens with Peixoto’s playful arrangement pairing Claudio Amaral and Claudio Villela on “Águas de Março” (Waters of March), which can’t help but bring to mind the classic Jobim and Elis Regina duet on the 1974 album Elis & Tom. e guitarist maintains the supple bossa pulse, with the ping-ponging vocal lines giving way to a gleaming muted Sandoval solo. It is a rare opportunity to hear Villela and Amaral singing a standard, as both artists are best known for performing their own captivating original material.
Amaral is a prolific composer whose song “Skindo LeLe” has gained international currency, particularly in bossa-loving Japan. e guitarist and singer is probably best known for his long-running band Viva Brasil, a talent-laden ensemble that performed with Stan Getz. He also recorded a memorable Brazilian jazz session with supremely adventurous vocalist Mark Murphy and collaborated with Brazilian legends Martinho da Vila, João Gilberto, and Airto Moreira. Amaral is responsible for another JAZZaNOVA highlight, putting his own stamp on Caetano Veloso’s “Aquele Frevo Axé” (Frevo is a carnaval dance popular in Northeast Brazil, and the title translates to at Frevo I Found). It is a tune indelibly associated with Gal Costa, who introduced it as the title track of a classic 1999 album. Amaral croons with relaxed authority, shadowed by Marsalis’s brusque and embracing tenor.
Villela, one of the world’s best Brazilian jazz singers, contributes two original pieces to JAZZaNOVA. Sandoval introduces her sumptuous ballad “Jangada” with a gentle muted trumpet fanfare, clearing the way for a soaring, imploring melody that would t snuggly in Joni Mitchell’s songbook, circa “Hejira” (if Mitchell possessed an astounding 5-octave range). “Diride,” another ravishing Villela original, pairs her, in a duo, with her longtime creative partner Peixoto on acoustic guitar. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and based in Northern California since the mid-1980s, Villela is an ingenious composer and lyricist with an astonishing body of original material. While once described as the best-kept Brazilian secret in North America, she nally attained widespread recognition with the 2003 release of her masterpiece InverseUniverse (Adventure Music), a program
of dazzling original songs created with Peixoto (who grew up in the same Rio neighbor- hood). She delivers the album’s most ethereal performance on guitarist Toninho Horta’s “Waiting for Angela” (Esperando Anginha), a delicate, wordless vocal that seems to evaporate into Marsalis’s slowly swirling soprano sax line.
Vocalist Sandy Cressman steps forward on a gorgeous version of
“Caminhos Cruzados” (Crossroads), one of ve classic Jobim songs interpreted on the album. Sinuously weaving together Sandoval’s lustrous ugelhorn and Cressman’s caressing Portuguese, the arrangement captures the song’s deliciously bittersweet mood. Born in the Bronx, but raised from childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cressman began studying jazz while attending UC Berkeley in the early 1980s. She rst gained notice as a member of Pastiche, a three-woman vocal ensemble modeled afer the ManhattanTransfer. The group traveled widely, and along the way Cressman began her love a air with Brazilian music.
Already intrigued by the music of Flora Purim, Milton Nascimento and Tania Maria, Cressman was totally captivated by a tape of the funky Brazilian singer/songwriter Djavan. While studying Portuguese and Brazilian percussion, she connected with Marcos Silva, the brilliant Rio-born, Bay Area-based pianist/arranger. In recent years, she’s also forged close creative bonds with the West Coast’s other resident Brazilian jazz piano masters, Weber Iago and Jovino Santos Neto. With a dazzling repertoire of MPB (musica popular brasileira), she’s an ideal choice to interpret the Ivan Lins/Vitor Martins popular ballad “Bilhete” (Ticket). Demonstrating why he is universally admired as one of jazz’s most expressive soprano saxophonists, Marsalis answers Cressman’s beseeching vocals with an equally ardent solo.
While not strongly associated with Brazilian music, Bay Area vocalist Carla Helmbrecht ably captures the mood of sublime pleasure in Jobim’s sighing standard “Corcovado,” with a beautifully cra ed assist from Sandoval’s gleaming ugelhorn. She acquits herself equally well on the Ivan Lins well-known jazz standard, “Love Dance,” a tune recorded by dozens of artists, including Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, and Nancy Wilson.
Born in Wisconsin, Helmbrecht soaked up jazz at home with her musically inclined family, and studied at Texas Tech University’s respected jazz program. Since settling in San Francisco, she has earned a sterling reputation with impressive record- ings like 2001’s Be Cool Be Kind. An all-star session with tenor sax great Ernie Watts and JAZZaNOVA pianist Peter Horvath and percussionist Michael Spiro, the album earned three Grammy nominations, including one for Horvath - Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist - and two for Helmbrecht - Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album.
A true Bay Area jazz star, Jackie Ryan has gained an international following with an expansive, multilingual repertoire in which Brazilian standards gure promi- nently. She sings, both the Portuguese and English, lyrics to Jobim’s “Por Causa De Você” (Don’t Ever Go Away), plumbing all the pathos and desperation that made Frank Sinatra’s
version so arresting. Ryan and the great Argentine vocalist Maria Volonté team up on Peixoto’s sleek and buoyant arrangement of Jobim’s “Chega De Saudade”(No More Blues), with Ryan singing through the seminal bossa nova in Portuguese and English before Volonté steps in.
Ryan was raised in a bilingual household in a working class San Rafael family. Her father hailed from old Irish San Francisco stock, and her Mexican-born mother came to the Bay Area as a teenager. She started singing professionally at 15 when she joined an R&B dance band, performing songs associated with Gladys Knight, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Entranced by jazz, she eventually made her way to Los Angeles in 1983, where
she performed widely with former Sarah Vaughan accompanist George Ga ney. She also studied Portuguese and hooked up with Sergio Mendes’s original rhythm section, mastering samba and bossa nova grooves. Since moving back to the Bay Area in the mid- 90s, her career has steadily gained momentum. Her albums have been greeted with raptur- ous praise and she has become a regular presence on the international concert circuit.
Blessed with a huge, warm contralto, Ryan has gathered a vast repertoire of English, Portuguese and Spanish-language standards from the American, Brazilian and Latin American Songbooks. She can swing with ferocity, croon bossa novas with a Rio de Janeiro lilt, belt the blues like an R&B diva, and deliver a bolero with smoldering intensity. Whatever she sings, Ryan invests each song with bracing honesty and innate musicality.
Linguistically, Maria Volonté is the album’s odd woman out, but she is an inspired choice to round out this glittering roster of singers. Before moving to the Bay Area several years ago, Volonté was a leading gure on the Buenos Aires scene. Her 1996 debut recording Tango y Otras Pasiones (Tango and Other Passions) was immediately recognized as a landmark and named by a major Buenos Aires newspaper as one of the top 100 tango recordings of all time. Her third CD, Fuimos (We Were), was nominated
for a Latin Grammy and won her the 2004 Gardel Prize for top female tango vocalist, Argentina’s highest musical award (named a er the legendary tango singer Carlos Gardel). On her recent albums, she has taken to so ening tango’s jagged edges with lilting bossa nova rhythms and lush jazz harmonies. For this set, Volonté contributes “Condéname a Callar” (Condemn Me To Silence), a Spanish-language groove-original that showcases
her immense song writing talents. In addition to “Chega De Saudade,” Volonté performs
another duet, joining Sandoval on the album’s closer, the romantic ballad “La Gloria Eres Tú” (Glory Is You), by Mexican superstar Luis Miguel (and the album’s other Spanish- language track). Volonté’s unbridled vocals are just what one would expect from a tango star, but Sandoval, here as a vocalist, demonstrates yet another facet of his already impos- ing musical arsenal (he is also an accomplished pianist!).
One reason that Volonté ts so seamlessly into the proceedings is that Akira Tana leads the session with such a light and supple hand. Long admired as one of jazz’s most sensitive and swinging trap masters, he never breaks the album’s ow with a drum solo. Instead, he directs the action with the so purr of his brushes and latticework cymbal strokes. Born in San Jose and raised in Palo Alto, Tana grew up in a musical family where his mother played piano and koto while his father, a priest, led various Buddhist congrega- tions around the Bay Area. A er he graduated from Harvard University with a degree in East Asian Studies he decided to pursue music full-time at New England Conservatory, his studies punctuated by stints with Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt and Helen Humes.
Tana made his mark in New York City with TanaReid, a band he co-founded with bass master Rufus Reid. e band toured internationally, released six CDs and helped boost the careers of brilliant young improvisers like pianist Rob Schneiderman, and
tenor saxophonists Mark Turner and Ralph Moore. A er two decades in Manhattan the drummer moved back to the Bay Area in the late 1990s. While always in demand as an accompanist, Tana has slowly developed his own identity as a bandleader with a series of high concept albums. His last release, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Sons of Sound) is a kinetic session exploring themes from James Bond films. While that album showcases Tana’s killer instinct, JAZZaNOVA shows that he is a lover too, an artist besotted with the irresistible sounds of Brazil.
Andrew Gilbert covers jazz and international music for the San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe



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