Amália Baraona: Menescantando

Amalia Baraona

Though born in Vitoria, Espírito Santo, Brasil, Roberto Menescal is essentially a Carioca—and a famous one, at that. He is often credited with being one of the leading lights of the Bossa Nova revolution in Brasilian music of the 50s when his group accompanied Dorival Caymmi, Vinicius De Moraes, Billy Blanco, Maysa Telles and Carlos Lyra; he was clubbed as one of them and when the secretary of Club Hebraica used the words “Bossa Nova” to describe an event in which they were participating, the name stuck. The rest is history and that includes the wistful music that Roberto Menescal composed into “O barquinho,” his most famous song. Roberto Menescal ought to be a lot more famous than he is outside Brasil (within the country he is almost as legendary as the musicians mentioned above), but like Moacir Santos, Thiago de Mello and many others living outside that great country, he is not. Yet every once and a while a musician comes along to pay homage to musicians such as these.

Menescantando - Amalia BaraonaHere, for instance, is one such homage to Roberto Menescal and it comes in the form of Menescantando, a very poignant study in the browns and golds of that the Carioca in Roberto Menescal’s music represents as well as the moveable feast that all his songs proffers, one after the other. The tribute comes from a young Portuguese singer based in Croatia, Amália Baraona, a vocalist of immense talent; a soprano with a considerable range, with breathtaking annunciation, oblique, angular phrasing and soulful orientation—seemingly perfect for a homage to the great Brasilian composer. Ms. Baraona has the ability to sing slightly lower than soprano—almost in the contralto—range. She uses this pitch as if she were a leaping impala bounding from plane to plane as the dramatic twists and turns of the music demands. Here she is accompanied by an instrument that wonderfully mimics the voice that it joins in to bring Roberto Menescal’s music to life: that is, the clarinet of her husband and soul-mate, Dinko Stipanicev. The clarinetist plays in a masterful fashion. He creates all the space for his wife’s voice to float gloriously into the air. He is almost native in his musical language, which, in this case just happens to be the language of choro. This is a remarkable ability, to light up the Brasilian fare keeping it in the tradition yet making it new. Most remarkable of all is the fact that two musicians—one from Portugal and the other from Croatia—can inhabit the music of Brasil with such nuance.

Ms. Baraona is magnificent on “Novas Bossas,” beginning the song almost flat, but soon soaring melodiously, like a condor caught in a thermal. She opens the way for Mr. Stipanicev’s clarinet to enter the music and his solo is breathtaking as it mimics her voice almost as if were another human voice. The sensuous tone of the reed brings the clarinet to life and the real-life couple of vocalists and clarinetist channel the fact that they are soul-mates through the experience of voice and instrument in an equally sensuous manner. Ms. Baraona’s performance is outstanding on all twelve tunes. But none is more spectacular in the one that is the true test of her soulful feeling form Roberto Menescal’s music: “O barquinho”. It would seem that the five decades between when the song was written and when it is being sung, are completely stripped away. Moreover, it would seem that Roberto Menescal wrote this legendary and elegiac ballad just for Amália Baraona. The portrait of Roberto Menescal’s celebrated pupil and the muse of Bossa Nova, Nara Leão, “Nara,” is another beautifully wistful piece of music about the wonderful and tragic life of a queen of Brasilian music. Ms. Baraona inhabits this song as if it were hers. Mr. Stipanicev is also exquisitely engaging on the samba “Brasil precisa balançar” and on the carioca ballad, “Perto de você”.

The musicians in Ms. Baraona’s band also inhabit the music is if it were written just for them. Pianist Bruno Montrone is superb as are bassist, Dario Di Lecce and especially drummer Fabio Delle Foglie, who plays the role of a “Brasilian” rhythmist with blithe spirit. It is these musicians as well as the chorus as well as Roberto Menescal, who makes a guest appearance on “Ah se eu pudesse” and on “Nara” who bring the heart and soul of Brasil to this memorable album.

Tracks: Novas Bossas; Pro Menesca; Feliz ano novo-lemanjá da Silva; Ah se eu pudesse; Brasil precisa balançar; Perto de você; Madame quer sambar; Agarradinhos; O barquinho; Nara; Mar amar; Tetê.

Personnel: Amália Baraona: vocals; Bruno Montrone: piano, arrangements (1 – 8, 10 – 12); Dinko Stipanicev: violão, clarinet, backing vocals (1, 9), arrangements (9); Dario Di Lecce: contrabass; Fabio Delle Foglie: drums; Roberto Menescal: guitar (4, 10); Francesca Leone: background vocals; Gemma Caldarola: background vocals; Lianna Grimaldi: background vocals; Marco Giuliani: background vocals; Mary Colucci: background vocals; Simona Regina: background vocals.

Label: Numérica
Release date: December 2012
Buy music on: amazon

About Amália Baraona

Originally from Portugal, Amália Baraona grew up in Brazil and her music represents a celebration of her upbringing and formative influences, in particular from Bossa Nova. Upon her return to Europe Amália turns to jazz and attends various workshops among others with Deborah Carter (USA), Maria Pia De Vito (IT), Anca Parghel (RO). Amália began her musical career in Brussels in the 90s, but it was in the Balkans, namely in Albania where she lived for 6 years, that the first important moments of her musical life took place. In Tirana she worked extensively with the Albanian pianist Genti Rushi and met the well known jazz guitarist of the Italian scene Guido Di Leone, with whom she would later produce her first album. Read more…

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
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.

More from author

Related posts


Featured Posts

Danilo Pérez featuring The Global Messengers: Crisálida

Danilo Pérez began forming his worldview - and aligning his music to it - ever since he came under the sphere of influence of...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part II)

Miguelo Valdés & The New Messengers Of Feeling Miguel Valdés, or “Miguelo”, as he has since become known, was born in the province of La...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part I)

Preamble Within the current renaissance of popular Cuban music, coupled with the seemingly eternal presence of its first cousin American Jazz, we are once again...

In Conversation with Carlos Cippelletti

Pianist, composer and arranger Carlos Cippelletti, is a promising young Spanish, Franco-Cuban artist from the last generation of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians born outside the...

Celebrating Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana’s 30th Anniversary

After dark they gather, the spirits of Havana. Is that a ghostly, but fatback-toned rapping down in the barrio where the great composer and...

Piazzolla Cien Años: Lord of the Tango@100

There is a now famous photograph of the great Ástor Piazzolla that is iconic for so many reasons. Chief among them is the manner...

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more