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Klaus Mueller | Village Samba

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Jazz: Bossa Nova Brazilian: Samba Moods: Featuring Piano
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Village Samba

by Klaus Mueller

Brazilian Jazz with a New York flavor, featuring mostly original compositions interpreted by some of today's finest Brazilian and New York-based musicians.
Genre: Jazz: Bossa Nova
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Village Samba
4:03 $0.99
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2. Toninho
4:42 $0.99
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3. System Process
4:35 $0.99
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4. Tua Visita
5:34 $0.99
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5. Desvio
4:55 $0.99
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6. Ilha Grande
4:26 $0.99
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7. Sambinha
4:36 $0.99
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8. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
5:25 $0.99
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9. Nice Surprise
5:08 $0.99
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10. Last Minute
3:39 $0.99
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11. I Can't Help It
3:40 $0.99
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12. Tulum
3:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
1. Village Samba (Klaus Mueller)
Ofer Assaf (ts), Noah Bless (tb), Klaus Mueller (p & key), Sergio Brandão (b), Portinho (dr & tamborim), Davi Vieira (pandeiro)

2. Toninho (Klaus Mueller)
Yotam Silberstein (gt), Klaus Mueller (p), Sergio Brandão (b), Portinho (dr)

3. System Process (Klaus Mueller)
Ofer Assaf (ts), Noah Bless (tb), Klaus Mueller (p), Sergio Brandão (b), Portinho (dr), Davi Vieira (triangle)

4. Tua Visita (Klaus Mueller)
Leny Andrade (vcl), Anne Drummond (fl), Harry Allen (ts), Klaus Mueller (p & key), Itaiguara Brandão (b), Rafael Barata (dr), Nadia Maudhoo (vln), Carrie Frey (vla)


5. Desvio (Klaus Mueller)
Yotam Silberstein (gt), Klaus Mueller (p), Itaiguara Brandão (b), Rafael Barata (dr & tamborim), Davi Vieira (tantan)

6. Ilha Grande (Klaus Mueller)
Hendrik Meurkens (hmca), Klaus Mueller (p), Itaiguara Brandão (b), Rafael Barata (dr)

7. Sambinha (Klaus Mueller)
Klaus Mueller (p), Itaiguara Brandão (b), Rafael Barata (dr)

8. I Got It Bad [And That Ain’t Good] (Duke Ellington / Paul Webster)
Anne Drummond (fl), Klaus Mueller (p & arrangement)

9. Nice Surprise (Klaus Mueller)
Anne Drummond (fl), Harry Allen (ts), Klaus Mueller (p), Itaiguara Brandão (b), Rafael Barata (dr),

10. Last Minute (Klaus Mueller)
Klaus Mueller (p), Sergio Brandão (b), Portinho (dr)

11. I Can’t Help It (Stevie Wonder/Susaye Greene)
Klaus Mueller (p & arrangement), Sergio Brandão (b), Portinho (dr)

12. Tulum (Klaus Mueller)
Klaus Mueller (p)

Produced by Klaus Mueller
Recorded at Michael Brorby Acoustic Recording and Samurai Hotel in New York City 2014
Mixed by David Darlington at Bass Hit Studios
Mastered by Thomas Schmidt at www.schmidt-thon.de
Cover art by Klimentina Jauleska

Village Samba
There are some pieces of music that can be easily gleaned from transcriptions in the Real Book or captured by ear from classic recordings. With others, it takes a bit more marinating to truly get the essence of the music in your bones, so to speak. This is particularly true of Brazilian music. With its myriad rhythmic nuances and comping styles, you almost have to have lived there to get it right. Fortunately, pianist-composer Klaus Mueller has spent a significant amount of time in Rio de Janeiro soaking up the music and culture of that region. Born to globe-trotting parents, Mueller lived in Germany, Japan, Chile and Brazil during his formative years as a musician before relocating to New York in 1998. And it was in those rich, bygone days of downtown New York nightlife that Mueller fell into a vibrant scene of Brazilian musicians living in New York and began playing in a trio led by the venerable Brazilian drummer Portinho.
Village Samba is Mueller’s homage to that fertile period when the sound of sambas, bossa novas and baiãos flooded clubs around the Greenwich Village-Soho district. “The Village and downtown area offered so much great Brazilian music when I first arrived in New York,” recalls Mueller. “There was the old Zinc Bar on Houston Street with its legendary Sunday nights, bossa nova at the Coffee Shop off of Union Square on Saturdays, there was samba de gafieira on Monday nights at Cafe Wha! and so many more clubs and bands.”
Accompanied by some renowned Brazilian musicians, including drummers Portinho and Rafael Barata, bassists Sergio and Itaiguara Brandão and vocalist Leny Andrade, who was once described by Tony Bennett as “the Ella Fitzgerald of Brazil,” Mueller crafts an authentic, enchanting vibe on Village Samba. Other guests on his second outing as a leader in the States include tenor saxophonists Harry Allen and Ofer Assaf, harmonica ace Hendrik Meurkens, flutist Anne Drummond and guitarist Yotam Silberstein. Together they bring unbridled energy and a certain Brazilian flavored joie de vivre to bear on nine Mueller originals. Two surprising covers complete this appealing collection.
They open with the buoyant title track, fueled by Sergio Brandão’s bubbling electric bass groove and Portinho’s churning undercurrent. Assaf’s tenor sax and Noah Bless’ trombone blend on the engaging melody while Mueller and Assaf also contribute potent solos on this upbeat opener. “That was the first song that we recorded,” says Mueller of the session that took place in Brooklyn. “And when Portinho came into the studio, he came with so much energy that he actually broke the drumsticks on that track.”
On the mellow bossa nova “Toninho,” a tribute to Brazilian guitarist-singer-composer Toninho Horta, Mueller demonstrates a delicate touch on piano while Silberstein comps gently on nylon string acoustic guitar before taking off on a lyrical solo that enlivens the track. “I had the pleasure to play with Toninho a few years back at Joe’s Pub,” Mueller recalls. “He’s such a great musician and composer. Definitely a big influence on my writing.”
The lively baião “System Process,” once again fueled by drumming master Portinho in tandem with longtime bass partner Sergio Brandão, features some particularly bold tenor work from Assaf while Davi Vieira’s adds percussive colors. The pianist also delivers a wonderfully cascading solo on this exhilarating number.
Leny Andrade, the 73-year-old bossa nova legend from Rio de Janeiro, delivers alluring vocals and offers some jazzy scatting on Mueller’s slow, dreamy “Tua Visita.” Says the composer, “I had first recorded this song as an instrumental, and somehow it was missing something. Then I realized that Leny was going to be in town, and having played with her a few times in New York I had the audacity to ask her to come in to the studio and sing this melody. She agreed, so I quickly came up with lyrics, and luckily the song was also in a key signature that would fit her vocal range.” Mueller contributes a mellow Wurlitzer electric piano solo here while Harry Allen’s smoky tenor solo summons up memories of the great Stan Getz in mid ‘60s bossa nova mode, particularly in the conversational exchanges he has at the end of the piece with Andrade.
On “Desvio,” an uptempo samba fueled by Itaiguara Brandão’s insistent groove alongside Barata’s briskly swinging brushwork and tamborim playing, Silberstein is turned loose on a burning solo. Mueller follows with some heat of his own, deftly playing off the percolating rhythm section while incorporating some of his jazzier instincts.
The German-born harmonica virtuoso and longtime New York City resident Hendrik Meurkens carries the achingly beautiful melody on Mueller’s gentle bossa nova “Ilha Grande,” named for an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Mueller’s piano solo here is relaxed, economical and tasty.
The upbeat trio number “Sambinha” again features the hand-in-glove rhythm tandem of drummer Barata and bassist Itaiguara, who also turns in a brilliant Jaco-esque solo here. Mueller’s dynamic piano solo lends an effervescent quality to this infectious samba.
For a change of pace from the Brazilian flavored theme, Mueller next delves into the luxurious Ellington ballad “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” performed as an intimate, conversational duet with flutist Anne Drummond. Mueller offers some of his most tender pianistic moments here while Drummond soars majestically in her improvisations on this stirring track. “I’ve been playing with Anne for a long time, and I have a bunch of arrangements that we’ve played together but never really recorded. At the end of the session, after everyone else had left, I brought out this arrangement and we just did it spontaneously, and it came out naturally. It’s like a conversation between friends.”
“Nice Surprise” combines a samba feel and a rhythm associated with the northeastern region of Brazil known as afoxê. Allen contributes a robust tenor solo here and Drummond follows in kind with a superb flute solo. And together they blend nicely near the end of the piece on top of the rhythmically-charged playing of Itaiguara and Barata.
“Last Minute” is a 5/4 number that got its name because Mueller changed the meter at the last minute before recording the trio piece. It was also recorded with Sergio Brandão shortly before he left New York to return to his home in Rio de Janeiro. “What can I say about Portinho?” says Mueller. He’s a treasure. I learned so much from this guy, almost more than I’ve learned at any music school I’ve been to.”
Another surprise cover is the trio’s gentle samba interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “I Can’t Help It,” a piece he had written for Michael Jackson’s 1979 landmark album, Off the Wall.
And the collection closes on a restful note with Mueller’s delicate solo piano piece, “Tulum,” named for the Mexican town which is a popular tourist site for its proximity to Mayan temples and pyramids in the nearby forest. “I went there last April and it was a very moving trip,” says Mueller. “And this piece was almost like the soundtrack to that experience and those images I remembered from that visit.”
Village Samba, Mueller’s love letter to Brazil, is the culmination of a musical journey that took root more than 20 years ago and stands as his crowning achievement to date.
-- Bill Milkowski

Bill Milkowski is a contributor to Down Beat and Jazziz magazines. He is also the author of “JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius” (Backbeat Books)

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