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Catina DeLuna: Lado B Brazilian Project

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Catina-DeLuna-LJNAs if shepherding her brilliant vocals through a Brasilian soundscape were not enough, Catina DeLuna has turned the charms of her voice of longing into a diamantine faceted instrument. Here is a singer whose voice and intelligence has melded seamlessly with words, vocal line and whatever dramatic concept is at hand. That impression only intensifies – as her vocal colours grow richer – in Lado B Brazilian Project – programme of gorgeously chosen Brazilian music sung not just with her customary mastery of line and form but always with something significant to discover with each listening of one beautiful song after another.

LADO B Brazilian Project - Catina de LunaAs easily as it might be to fall into lazy listening with the better-known songs such as Garota De Ipanema and Fotografia, Ms. DeLuna’s vivid performances make you examine music and lyrics anew just to appreciate her sudden burst of vocal colour (Lamentos goes into Elis Regina-zone) or her onomatopoeic effects in Quase Frevo gives the characters within the songs a near-physical presence (listen to Quase Frevo as a particularly breathtaking example). Consequently there is no such thing as a less exalted moment on this album. Here is a slice of life about a woman enjoying her ‘specialness’ in song after a fashion. And even among vivacious Brazilian women singers Catina DeLuna is quite extraordinary.

To boot, Catina DeLuna is an accomplished pianist and can punctuate her music with percussive effects (on O Canto Da Ema) for she has not only perfect pitch, but can keep perfect time as well. This too is a Brasilian gift that comes from a natural affinity for samba, maracatú and frevo, choro and much more that is uniquely characterised by ritmo especifico and a singular manner in which Brasilian music explores the finer points of harmonic characterisation awash with oceanic grandeur. But at least much of the credit for the re-imagination of the musical writing must go to her pianist and husband Otmaro Ruiz.

It is quite possible that the intimacy shared between the couple acts as a musical stimulant. However Mr. Ruiz’s talent is much more than adoration. His fundamental gift for lyrical line is evident from the manner in which he makes it gently cure in the air, gambol in ellipses and dart suddenly into surprising and magical directions. Moreover his musical gifts stretch across the topography catalysed by a genuine pianistic talent second to none. His impulse to adorn melody is breathtaking and he can create visions of the whole landscape of the song in but a line that he seems to pull out of thin air. This is a priceless asset to the music on this disc and when Catina DeLuna steps into the frame it becomes a winning formula.

Track List: Lavadeira do Rio and Maracatu; Garota De Ipanema; Cavalo Marinho (Baião Barroco); Contrato de Seperação; Chovendo Na Roseira; Estrela Azul; O Canto Da Ema; Encontros e Despedidas; Lamentos; Quase Frevo; Fotografia.

Personnel: Catina DeLuna: vocal, piano (1 & 11) and body percussion (7); Otmaro Ruiz: piano, accordion and arrangements; Larry Koonse: guitars; Edwin Livingston: bass; Aaron Serfaty: drums; Alex Acuña: percussion; Bob Sheppard: flute; Nick Mancini: marimba; Mike Shapiro: percussion; Clarice Cast: percussion; Greg Beyer: percussion.

Label: Independent
Release date: August 2015
Website: catinadeluna.com
Running time: 1:03:12
Buy music on: amazon

About Catina DeLuna

Brazilian pianist, vocalist, composer and voice actress Catina DeLuna has enjoyed a successful and varied musical career since beginning to play the piano and sing at a young age. After completing a B.A. in Brazilian Popular Music at the prestigious UNICAMP University in São Paulo, she founded two award winning groups: the vocal group Arirê, in which she was responsible for arranging, playing piano, and singing, and the group Serenata Brasileira, playing classic Brazilian songs from the 1920’s and 30’s, in full authentic costume and style. Read more…

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Deo gratis…

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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