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Vanderlei Pereira Releases New Album: “Vision for Rhythm” on Jazzheads

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Vanderlei Pereira

Vanderlei Pereira

Drummer Vanderlei Pereira leads the dynamic Brazilian jazz sextet Blindfold Test, which boasts an unusual frontline of woodwinds and wordless vocal, backed by a burning rhythm section. Vision for Rhythm is set for release May 22, 2020 on Jazzheads. It features diverse styles of Brazilian music filtered through a jazz sensibility, and includes Vanderlei’s originals as well as compositions by some of Brazil’s greatest contemporary musicians. The musicians of Blindfold Test wear blindfolds during the performance of some of the band’s most challenging material in order to “level the playing field” for Vanderlei, who is blind.

Vanderlei Pereira (vahn-der-LAY peh-RAY-rah) is an extraordinary virtuosic Brazilian drummer, composer and arranger who has been based in New York City since 1988.  Combining a prodigious knowledge of Brazilian rhythms with dazzling technique and a distinctive touch, he has captivated audiences around the world with his unique and electrifying performances.

Vanderlei has recorded and appeared with a virtual “Who’s Who” of Brazilian and Latin music, including Toots Thielemans, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Bebel Gilberto, Leila Pinheiro, Rosa Passos, Tito Puente, Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Claudio Roditi, Leny Andrade, Dom Salvador, Romero Lubambo, and many, many others.

He was born into a musical family in Macaé, Brazil, a coastal city a little over 100 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, and began playing drums professionally at age 15. He moved to Rio in his twenties, where he pursued a multifaceted musical career that included a six-year performance internship with the renowned Orquesta Sinfónica Brasiliera (OSB).

As Vanderlei’s inherited retinitis pigmentosa progressed and his vision deteriorated, he realized he could no longer continue working in the classical realm and dedicated himself to music that did not require reading. He came to be known as one of the top jazz drummers in Rio, as well as being a highly regarded player of samba and Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), working steadily even after he lost his sight completely. After his move to New York, he quickly became an in-demand drummer on that city’s Brazilian music scene.

Vision for Rhythm is Vanderlei’s first CD as a leader. The album explores diverse traditional styles of Brazilian music filtered through a jazz sensibility, and features his Brazilian jazz sextet, Blindfold Test, with world-class performances by Susan Pereira singing wordless vocals and playing percussion, Deanna Witkowski on piano, Jorge Continentino and Rodrigo Ursaia on sax and flute, Paul Meyers on guitar and, on bass, Gustavo Amarante and Itaiguara Brandão.

From the explosive opening of the 7/4 samba “Misturada”, composed by one of his heroes, Airto Moreira, to Vanderlei’s blistering frevo “De Volta à Festa”, Vision for Rhythm is an exhilarating pan-rhythmic journey through Brazilian jazz, meticulously arranged and beautifully performed.  In addition to Airto’s tune, works by acclaimed composers Edu Lobo and Antonio Adolfo are featured, along with compositions by Toninho Ferragutti, Zeca Freitas, Nando Lauria, Kimson Plaut, and Jasnam Daya Singh.  Apart from his outstanding drumming and arranging, Vanderlei shows himself to be a formidable composer, as evidenced by his four works on this CD.

When asked about the challenges of being a blind musician, Vanderlei says:  “I try to keep a positive attitude.  I had to deal with losing my vision while continuing to work full-time as a musician.  It took over twenty years to truly accept my blindness and develop the ability to see the positive things in everyday life.  I try as much as I can to share some of that optimism with everyone I interact with daily.  I would hate to think that people feel sorry for me because of my visual impairment.  I’m blind, but so what? I’ve still got music and my own way of seeing things, thank God.  I try to channel that energy into my music, and I think it comes through on the CD.

“I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to create a band with such exceptional musicians, most of whom I have known for more than twenty years. This being New York City, we’ve played together in all kinds of situations and musical genres; when the time came to put the band together, I really knew everybody’s style and sound, and built Blindfold Test around them.  It was important to me to have a mix of Brazilians and Americans in the group, and the band could only have developed the way it did because of each musician’s deep involvement with both Brazilian music and jazz.”

Vanderlei challenges the musicians of Blindfold Test to wear blindfolds during the performance of some of the band’s most demanding material to “level the playing field”.  The result is an exciting adventure in sound, texture and musical energy.

*Source: Jazzheads Music Group

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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1 Comment

  1. Deanna Witkowski

    May 22, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    I’m so happy that this recording is officially out and am looking forward to when we can play a CD release gig live!

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New Releases

Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band to release new recording: “Vox Humana”

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Drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria
Drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria

Celebrating 25 years! The multi-Grammy nominated Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is set to release their new recording: “Vox Humana” featuring vocalists Janis Siegel, Antoinette Montague, Jennifer Jade Ledesna.

Recorded Live at Dizzy’s Club Cola in NYC
Release Date: Spring 2023
Record Label: Jazzheads

New York – January 18th – On the heels of their Grammy nominated and 2019 Jazz Journalists Association Album of the Year Award winning critically acclaimed masterwork, West Side Story Reimagined, and in celebration of their 25th anniversary – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria and his Multiverse Big Band return with their most ambitious work to date, VOX HUMANA.

Bobby states, “Over the course of our many Grammy nominated albums we’ve occasionally featured tracks with vocals. But I’ve always envisioned doing an entire vocal album framed by the Multiverse Big Band. Now with three of today’s greatest contemporary singing talents – multi-Grammy award winner Janis Siegel from the Manhattan Transfer, blues and jazz Queen Antoinette Montague, and the multilingual powerhouse, Jennifer Jade Ledesna, today that vision has finally become a reality.

The individually distinct voices that Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer possess make them each unique. But the X factor they all have is they are all masterful improvisors in the best sense of the jazz tradition. Added to the mix is our great conguero, Oreste Abrantes, who also sings lead on two tracks. Having that multi- dimensional vocal talent framed by the power, nuance, and tonal variety that only a big band can provide, combined with the repertoire I’ve chosen to showcase them and the band and the incredible variety of Afro- Latin, straight ahead swing, funk, R&B, and rock rhythmic vocabulary that we are masters of and readily have at our disposal in the Multiverse, I believe VOX HUMANA will prove to be our greatest achievement. 

Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band: "Vox Humana"
Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band: “Vox Humana”

That repertoire has a personal meaning to me as I see VOX HUMANA as a biographical work. I’m a product of my environment. I’m a Nuyorican, a person of Puerto Rican descent growing up in New York City. In my case the South Bronx during a time period when pop, jazz, R&B, rock, funk, and Latin music of all kinds all co-existed as equals. It was the last era when the big bands of masters like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Machito, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Don Ellis, and more were in the public eye, and they became my heroes. Vocalists who could deliver a message with subtlety, nuance, and when needed, power, were called upon to deliver poetry crafted by genius song writers. You’ll hear all that and more through the soaring vocals and improv talents of Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer, along with Oreste, as well as the incredible jazz-oriented arrangements and exciting Pan Afro-Latin rhythms played by a big band that literally takes no prisoners when it hits the stage.”

The repertoire Bobby speaks of includes 1 original and 12 unique re-workings of pop hits like Spooky, Christine Aguilera’s Genie In a Bottle, and Steely Dan’s Do It Again; NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri’s, Mi Congo and Puerto Rico along with the island’s greatest composer, Rafael Hernandez’s, Capullito De Aleli; the classic Joe Cuba R&B bolero, To Be With You; Brazilian standards Partido Alto and Amazonas; and from the world of Broadway theater, I Love You Porgy, and the iconic jump blues, Let The Good Times Roll. The CD also includes an original message bearing piece, Who Taught You That, as well as what may possibly be the most exciting interpretation of the Ellington associated classic, Caravan, and that has ever been recorded. 

Adding to the excitement of the performance, VOX HUMANA was recorded in front of a live audience. Bobby states, “As with our previous work, we recorded VOX HUMANA live at NYC’s Dizzy’s Club Coca – Cola. My musicians represent NYC’s finest. That means they’re the greatest in the world. The added level of excitement created by the audience inspired us in the MULTIVERSE Big Band to a heightened new level of performance virtuosity that listeners will hear explode out of the speakers just as the audience at Dizzy’s experienced in person.”

The history of the Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is indeed one based on his rich multi-cultural heritage as a Nuyorican growing up in New York City’s South Bronx. His concept of having a big band that has no genre boundaries with limitless possibilities was forged 25 years ago back in 1998. It has yielded a series of groundbreaking, critically acclaimed albums that have all been Grammy-nominated with the band thrilling audiences worldwide at venues like the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Ravinia Festival, Verona Jazz Festival in Europe, and more.

Content Source: Two for the Show Media

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