Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion – Mozart Meets Cuba (2005)

KlazzBrothersFrontCover1In celebration of the anniversary of Mozart’s 250th birthday in 2006, Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion dedicated their new album to the genius of composition and improvisation, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The album is part of the quintet’s sophisticated crossover series between classical music, jazz and Latin-American rhythms. “Mozart meets Cuba“ invites the listeners to join in on an imaginary musical trip to Cuba, where they get to experience the Viennese Classic in a mould-breaking innovative way. Witty and playful and with a delicate musical intuition the arrangements of the Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion lead Mozart and his music on to novel musical dimensions, fusing the most beautiful compositions of the great Salzburg genius with the rhythm and harmonies of Latin jazz. Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion pay homage to a great composer of an extraordinary dramatic art, that is as relevant as it was 250 years ago. Thus, the ensemble has created a unique conversation between the Caribbean and the occident, glossily reconciling classical sonata themes with the Caribbean dancing rhythm. As a result the „Serenade No. 13“ is transformed into a cha-cha-cha and „The Turkish March“ converted into a “Cuban” one. Next to it, two single compositions are united to one piece as can be heard with Pamina’s aria from “The Magic Flute”. The aria is combined with „Besame Mucho“, motives of Ennio Morricones’ “Once Upon a Time in the West” resound within the overture of „Don Giovanni“.

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The programme „Mozart meets Cuba“ premiered at the Munich Philharmonic Hall in 2005. It was broadcasted worldwide by Euroarts. In the same year the same-titled album was released with Sony Classical, which was awarded the “Echo Classic” in the category “Classic Beyond Borders”, thus presenting the second “Echo” award for the successful quintet. Their international tour started just in time for Mozart’s birthday on 27th January 2006 with a concert at the “Wiener Konzertverein”, followed by various other performances at renowned concert halls such as the “Berlin Philharmonic Hall”, the “Gewandhaus Leipzig” and the “Semper Opera Dresden”.

“Mozart meets Cuba” becomes a memorable musical experience thanks to the unique intensityof the quintet’s impressive creativity in perfectly blending music of different genres. (grandmontagne.de)

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As a follow up to their accomplished fusion effort last year, “Classic Meets Cuba”, the Klazz Brothers and Cuba Percussion have collaborated again for much of the same, only this time focusing specifically on the works of Mozart. If the results are not quite as exhilarating as the first effort, it may be that the novelty feels somewhat worn this time despite the often virtuoso playing displayed here. Recalling some of Vince Guaraldi’s work in the 1960’s, the jazzy arrangements are once again supplemented with the beat-heavy Cuban rhythms churned out by Alexis Herrera Estevez on timbales and Elio Rodriguez Luis on congas. What continues to impress on this recording is how well the two sides of the ensemble – Estevez and Rodriguez on one and on the other, pianist Tobias Forster, bassist Killian Forster and drummer Tim Hahn – mesh so well in making all the disparate musical elements balance without contrivance.

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Many of Mozart’s most renowned pieces are here in reconfigured form. The warhorse Piano Sonata K. 545 (“Sonata Facile”) turns into a sunny Caribbean number, “Calypso Facile”, while the staccato-tempo Turkish March evolves into the propulsive “Cuban March”. More creatively, the familiar Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467 turns into an African-accented bolero named appropriately “Afrolero” complete with a faraway-sounding whistle, while Eine Kleine Nachtmusik K. 525 becomes a percolating dance number, “Bomba de la Noche”. Even more audaciously, they turn the overture to “Don Giovanni” into a slow, evocative bolero number, “Don Muerte”, and the familiar aria, “La Ci Darem La Mano” into a lovely piano-dominated ballad, “Reich Mir Die Hand (Your Hand in Mine)”. Somewhat less successful are the two selections derived from “The Magic Flute” – “Yo Siento Mucho”, a cha-cha version of “Ach, Ich Fuhl’s” and Forster’s extended piano riffs based on the potpourri passage, “Salzburger Schafferl”. Latin pop artist Lou Bega lends his saucy vocals to “Son de Mozart”, a clubby reinvention of Fantasia in C Minor, K. 475. This is fun listening for fans of Latin-classical fusion. (Ed Uyeshima)

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Personnel:
Alexis Herrera Estevez (timbales)
Kilian Forster (bass)
Tobias Forster (piano)
Tim Hahn (drums)
Elio Rodriguez Luis (percussion)
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Lou Bega (vocals on 16.)
Olivier Roland Kerourio (harmonica on 08.)
Mario Felix Hernandez Morejon (trumpet on 08. + 16.)

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Tracklist:
01. Guantánameritmo – Sonate c-Moll KV 457 / 2.59
02. Salzburger Schafferl – Die Zauberflöte 5.16
03. Calypso Facile – Sonate C-Dur KV 545 / 6.11
04. Poema con Cohiba – Klarinettenkonzert 3.07
05. Kubanischer Marsch – Türkischer Marsch 4.00
06. Afrolero – Klavierkonzert Nr. 21 / 5.08
07. Don Cajon 0.34
08. Don Muerte – Don Giovanni 5.03
09. Sonatadur – Sonate A-Dur KV 331 / 3.29
10. Wenn Son, Danzon – Klavierkonzert Nr. 23 / 4.32
11. Reich mir die Hand – Reich mir die Hand, mein Leben 4.44
12. Tercero de la Noche – Eine kleine Nachtmusik 5.07
13. Yo siento mucho – Die Zauberflöte 4.48
14. Bomba de la Noche – Eine kleine Nachtmusik 3.59
15. Hasta la vista Mozart 2.27
16. Son de Mozart – Fantasie c-Moll 4.21

Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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Renaud Garcia-Fons – Oriental Bass (1998)

FrontCover1.jpgSometimes referred to as “the Paganini of double bass,” Renaud Garcia-Fons is a composer and five-string bass player who was deeply influenced by the brilliant bassist François Rabbath. Garcia-Fons actually started his studies in music at an early age. He began with piano when he was only five, switched to classical guitar at eight, and then to rock in his teens, finally settling on the bass when he was 16. Garcia-Fons lives in Paris and has toured through Germany and Europe performing at festivals. In 1987, he became a member of the Orchestre de Contrebasses. He remained with them for six years, also appearing with the Orchestre National de Jazz during some of that time. ENJA Records released Garcia-Fons’ solo debut, Légendes, in the ’90s. Alboreá was his next release. The album featured his quartet of Jean-Louis Matinier on accordion, Jacques Mahieux on drums, and Yves Torchinsky on bass. Garcia-Fons’ third album, Oriental Bass, which he composed, was released in 1998. Next, he combined talents with accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier on the album Fuera. Garcia-Fons’ music is a rich gypsy mix of global jazz flavored with Indian, Greek, African, flamenco, Latin American, tango, and new musette. On many works he is accompanied by a variety of instruments, including guitar, lute, derbouka, flutes, trombone, and accordion. ( by Charlotte Dillon)

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And this is the third album by Renaud Garcia-Fons:

A student of the legendary Syrian bass player François Rabbath, 5-string virtuoso Renaud Garcia-Fons is of Spanish and French descent splitting his time between both countries/cultures when he is not on the road throughout Europe. He is known as “a bassist with astonishing technique” whose con-arco playing has “a quality more reminiscent of the viola or the cello” (L.A. Times). Influenced not only by jazz and classical music but also by oriental, African and Spanish traditions, Renaud’s unique artistry led to exciting and successful collaborations with such open-minded players as Rabih Abou-Khalil, Nguyen Lê, Gérard Marais, Pedro Soler, Jean-Louis Matinier and Michael Riessler.

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Following his solo recording “Légendes” and the quartet album “Alboreá” (both of which received highest ratings from critics all over the world), Renaud’s east-western synthesis comes to a climax on “Oriental Bass”. Says Renaud: “I had a dream about a bass – half Gypsy, half Mauretanian – that travelled from India to Andalusia passing by the Mediterranean north or south. The bass is neither a traditional nor an oriental instrument. But its range of sonorities and the ways it is played upon – both pizzicato and con arco – seem to make it feel comfortable in the neighbourhood of certain instruments at home in the oriental world. For several years now my work – composing and improvising – has been led by these relationships and by the love the bass brings to all of this music. This is how the idea for this album was born.”

Assisted by a wide variety of musicians and instruments from diverse ethnic background, Renaud’s visionary masterwork “Oriental Bass” is definitely a highlight of 1997’s cross-cultural vintage. “Garcia-Fons’ music exists in a space of its own beyond jazz, world beat or any other category” (by Larry Katz).

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Personnel:
Claire Antonini (lute, théorbe)
Yves Favre (trombone)
Renaud Garcia-Fons (bass, percussion)
Chris Hayward (flute)
Jean-Louis Matinier (accordion)
Vicente Pradal (flamenco guitar)
Bruno Sansalone (clarinet)
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oriental percussion:
Rabah Khalfa – J.-F. Roger – Sam Schlamminger – Anu Yerno

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Tracklist:
01. Oriental Bass 6.38
02. San Juan 8.58
03. Goodjinns 5.24
04. Oryssa 7.18
05. Ghazali 3.01
06. Jullundur 3.55
07. Hommage A Ostat 5.57
08. Bajo Andaluz 3.44
09. Jam Buleria 3.07
10. Djani 7.43

Music composed by Renaud Garcia-Fons

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Esperanza Spalding – Esperanza (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgEsperanza is the second studio album by the American bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding. It was released on May 20, 2008.

Being exposed to many different cultural impressions while growing up, Spalding sings in three different languages here: English, Spanish and Portuguese. After Spalding’s Grammy Award win in February 2011, the album entered the Billboard 200 at 138. 8ny wikipedia)

Bassist, vocalist, and composer Esperanza Spalding’s eponymous release on Heads Up International is touted on the Concord Label Group’s website as her debut recording. This is patently untrue. In fact, if it weren’t for her actual debut , 2006’s Junjo on Spain’s Ayva imprint, this set may not have existed at all. Junjo showcased Spalding as a leader, playing in an acoustic trio with pianist Aruan Ortiz and drummer Francisco Mela singing wordlessly over bubbling Latin and Afro-Cuban melodies and rhythms. Though written by Brazilian legend Milton Nasciemento and featuring backing vocalists and additional percussion to the bass, piano, and drum format, Esperanza’s opening track, “Ponta De Areia” resembles the sound and M.O. of the earlier album quite a bit. This is on purpose, as Spalding simply nods to one of the many places she comes from musically.

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The track, with its languid, nursery rhyme-like melody and beautifully understated instrumental accompaniment, gently opens the listener to an aural experience that’s quite unlike anything else out there. Spalding sings in three languages here — English, Spanish, and Portuguese — she plays bass, does the arranging, and acts as her own producer on this wildly diverse and exceptionally well-executed set. How does a 23-year-old get all that control? Simple: she’s a prodigy; she is a seasoned session player (she’s worked with Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, and Patti Austin to name just three), and she’s a faculty member at the Berklee College of Music.

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The ambition on display on Esperanza is not blind; it’s deeply intuitive, and her focus brings out the adventure on the album in all the right ways. By a lesser musician, even attempting something like this would have been disastrous. A core band consisting of pianist Leo Genovese, percussionist Jamey Haddad, and drummer Otis Brown backs Spalding. She follows the Nasciemento cut with her own fingerpopping midtempo ballad “I Know You Know,” where her crystal clear contralto walks a phrasing tightrope between near scat, classic jazz, and Latin soul singing. The layers of hand percussion and knotty pianism fill the middle as her bassline and drums hold down a constant skittering thrum for the lyrics to balance on. But she can write and sing straight ballads as well. “Fall In,” a seemingly simple duet where her voice over Genovese’s piano are the only ornaments, is a stellar example and also displays a very sophisticated and slippery sense of wordcraft and a gorgeous melodic sensibility. “I Adore You,” featuring Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez in one of his two appearances on drums, offers another example of Esperanza Spalding03.jpgSpalding’s wordless vocalizing; it is a popping Brazilian samba-cum-rhumba with a snappy backing chorus of Brown, Gretchen Parlato, and Theresa Perez. They help her move the smoking piano and the shuffling, time-shifting drums of Hernandez on the choruses. Spalding’s bass part here is anything but basic, it’s startling in its rhythmic and lyric invention as it adds another harmonic counterpart to the piano and percussive textures. New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison performs in one of his two guest spots on the provocative and sassy jazz tune “She Got to You.” With a quick, even-burning tempo, there are traces of Betty Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, and even Blossom Dearie in Spalding’s phrasing. For all of the hard-driving percussion and the track’s boppish tempo, it is wonderfully accessible. “Precious,” played with her trio (including some nice Rhodes work by Genovese) is like a mirror image; it’s lithe, new-soul melody line flirts with jazz in the arrangement but stays on the pop side of the fence. If radio would get behind this it would be a monster. “Mela” is a wailing, post-bop instrumental with Hernandez on drums and guest Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet. Check Spalding’s bass solo here, it, like the tune, is a burner. In sum, Esperanza sounds like the work of a much older, more experienced player, singer, and songwriter. Spalding not only has these gifts in natural abundance but is disciplined in her execution as well. On this recording she seeks to widen her musical adventure at every turn, but she does it with such with taste, refinement, and a playful sense of humor that virtually anyone who encounters this offering will find not only much to delight in, but plenty to be amazed by as well. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Otis Brown (drums)
Leo Genovese (piano)
Jamey Haddad (percussion)
Esperanza Spalding (bass, vocals)
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Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet on 08. + 11.)
Donald Harrison (saxophone on 06. + 11.)
Horacio Hernandez (drums on 04. + 08.)
Gretchen Parlato (background vocals on 01 + 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Ponta de Areia (Nascimento/Brant) 5.39
02. I Know You Know (Spalding) 3.47
03. Fall In (Spalding) 3.57
04. I Adore You (Spalding) 7.27
05. Cuerpo y Alma (Body & Soul) (Heyman/Sour) 8.01
06. She Got To You (Spalding) 4.29
07. Precious (Spalding) 4.24
08. Mela (Spalding) 6.57
09. Love in Time (Spalding) 5.47
10. Espera (Spalding) 4.40
11. If That’s True (Spalding) 7.33
12. Samba em Preludio (de Moraes/Powell) 5.11

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Yma Sumac – Miracles (1972)

FrontCover1.jpgYma Sumac (September 13, 1922 (birth certificate) or September 10, 1923 (later documents) – November 1, 2008), was a Peruvian coloratura soprano. In the 1950s, she was one of the most famous exponents of exotica music.

Sumac became an international success based on her extreme vocal range. She had six-and-a-half octaves according to some reports,[6] but other reports (and recordings) document four-and-a-half at the peak of her singing career.[2][7] (A typical trained singer has a range of about three octaves.)[8]

In one live recording of “Chuncho”, she sings a range of over four and a half octaves, from B2 to G♯7. She was able to sing notes in the low baritone register as well as notes above the range of an ordinary soprano and notes in the whistle register. Both low and high extremes can be heard in the song “Chuncho (The Forest Creatures)” (1953). She was also apparently able to sing in a remarkable “double voice”.

In 1954, classical composer Virgil Thomson described Sumac’s voice as “very low and warm, very high and birdlike”, noting that her range “is very close to five octaves, but is in no way inhuman or outlandish in sound.” In 2012, audio recording restoration expert John H. Haley favorably compared Sumac’s tone to opera singers Isabella Colbran, Maria Malibran, and Pauline Viardot. He described Sumac’s voice as not having the “bright penetrating peal of a true coloratura soprano”, but having in its place “an alluring sweet darkness … virtually unique in our time.” (by wikipedia)

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Miracles re-unites the extraordinary five-octave voice of Peru’s Yma Sumac with Les Baxter, the producer of her first album, “The Voice of Xtabay” (released in 1950). Acclaimed for her powerful and unique artistry, Miss Sumac achieved world fame during the Fifties with the use of Mr. Baxter’s productions. He has chosen to record Yma in a contemporary setting with a four-piece rock band and modern recording techniques. The results are a stunning showcase for an unparalleled performer.
Yma is an adventurous musician. She has conquered many modes, from Peruvian folksongs, through operatic arias, as well as popular Latin songs and international folk music. Now, in her very unique way, she tackles rock.
Miracles melds the most extraordinary music of this century with the most extraordinary voice of three generations – an improvisational tour de force. (www.discogs.com)

This a album full of magic and miracles … it´s a brilliant album ! What a voice !

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Besetzung:
Chuck Cowan (guitar)
Roger Cowan (bass)
Richard Person (organ)
Yma Sumac (vocals)
Skippy Switzer (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Remember (Baxter) 4.03
02. Medicine Man (Baxter) 3.02
03. Let Me Hear You (Baxter) 2.24
04. Tree Of Life (Baxter) 2.53
05. Flame Tree (Baxter) 2.42
06. Zebra (Baxter) 2.48
07. Azure Sands (Baxter) 2.34
08. Look Around (Baxter) 2.16
09. Magenta Mountain (Baxter) 2.43
10. El Condor Pasa (Robles/Milchberg/Simon) 4.44

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Cal Tjader – Plays The Contemporary Music Of Mexico And Brazil (1962)

FrontCover1.jpgCal Tjader Plays the Contemporary Music of Mexico and Brazil is a 1962 studio album by Cal Tjader.

This 1962 set by Cal Tjader, recorded at the beginning of the bossa nova craze in the United States (released in the same year and on the same label as the smash Jazz Samba by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd), has one of the most boring titles imaginable, and it doesn’t begin to describe the laid-back yet magical innovations in the grooves. Produced by Creed Taylor, the date was arranged and orchestrated by the great pianist Clare Fischer (who also wrote the liner notes). Tjader set out to offer a very modern portrait of the music pouring out of Mexico City by showcasing selected Mario Ruíz Armengol compositions, and out of Brazil by spotlighting numbers by singers such as Elisete Cardoso and João Gilberto. Tjader’s vibes are placed in juxtaposition with Fischer’s piano and percussion by Changuito, Milt CalTjader01Holland, and Johnny Rae, with a woodwind section that included both Don Shelton and Paul Horn, and even some wordless exotica vocals by Ardeen DeCamp. In addition, Brazilian guitar star Laurindo Almeida helps out on about half the set and contributed “Chôro e Batuque,” while Fischer offers “Elisete,” named for the singer. The feel here is gentle with infectious rhythms and beautifully wrought woodwinds (check “Se é Tarde, Me Perdoa”), gorgeous piano, and spacious vibes. The arrangements by Fischer certainly represent the era, but they endure into the 21st century because of the shining example of interplay between the percussion and melodies (note the breezy “Silenciosa”). Tjader had been playing samba on records for a number of years by this point, and worked with Getz in 1957, but this was the first place he allowed his own complex yet delightfully subtle melodic (rather than just rhythmic) sensibilities to shine on the vibes. The most remarkable thing about this set is how effortlessly the two traditions blend. (by Thom Jurek)

Recorded in Hollywood, Calif., March 5, 6 and 7, 1962

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Personnel:
Laurindo Almeida (guitar)
Ardeen de Camp (vocals)
Changuito (percussion)
Clare Fischer (piano)
Milt Holland (percussion)
Johnny Rae (drums, timbales)
Freddie Schreiber (bass)
Cal Tjader (vibraphone)
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woodwind:
Bernie Fleischer – Don Shelton – Gene Cipriano – John Lowe – Paul Horn

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Tracklist:
01. Vai Querer (Almeida/Lobo) 3.04
02. Qué Tristeza (Armengol) 2.50
03. Meditação (Meditation) (Mendonça/Jobim/Gimbel) 3.33
04. Soñé (Armengol) 3.09
05. Se é Tarde, Me Perdoa (Bôscoli/Lyra) 2.51
06. Não Diga Nada (Carlita/Mercenes) 2.48
07. Silenciosa (Armengol) 3.28
08. Elizete (Fischer) 2.31
09. Imagen (Armengol) 2.41
10. Tentaço do Incoveniente (da Conceição/Mesquita) 2.33
11. Preciosa (Armengol) 2.41
12. Chôro e Batuque (Almeida) 5.02

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Callen Radcliffe Tjader, Jr. (July 16, 1925 – May 5, 1982)

Henri Salvador – Reverence (2006)

FrontCover1.jpgHenri Salvador (18 July 1917 – 13 February 2008) was a French Caribbean comedian and singer.

Salvador was born in Cayenne, French Guiana. His father, Clovis, and his mother, Antonine Paterne, daughter of a native Carib Indian, were both from Guadeloupe, French West Indies. Salvador had a brother, André, and a sister, Alice.

He began his musical career as a guitarist accompanying other singers. He had learned the guitar by imitating Django Reinhardt’s recordings, and was to work alongside him in the 1940s. Salvador recorded several songs written by Boris Vian with Quincy Jones as arranger. He played many years with Ray Ventura and His Collegians where he used to sing, dance and even play comedy on stage.

He also appeared in movies including Nous irons à Monte-Carlo (1950), Nous irons à Paris (Jean Boyer’s film of 1949 with the Peters Sisters) and Mademoiselle s’amuse (1948).

He is known to have recorded the first French rock and roll songs in 1957 written by Boris Vian and Michel Legrand — “Rock’n Roll Mops”, “Rock hoquet, Va t’faire cuire un oeuf, man” and “Dis-moi qu’tu m’aimes rock” — under the artist name of Henry Cording (a play on the word “Recording”). Despite this historical aspect, he never ceased to claim that he disliked rock and roll and even refused to talk about this subject later on.

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In the 1960s, Salvador was the host of several popular television variety shows on French TV. In 1964, he scored a hit with “Zorro est arrivé”, which was inspired by The Coasters’ U.S. hit “Along Came Jones”. He is also famous for his rich, catchy laugh, which is a theme in many of his humorous songs. In 1969, Henri Salvador recorded a variation of “Mah Nà Mah Nà” entitled “Mais non, mais non” (“But No, But No” or “Of Course Not, Of Course Not”), with lyrics he had written in French to Piero Umiliani’s music.

Henri Salvador and his song “Dans mon île” (1957) were thought to be an influence on Antônio Carlos Jobim in formulating the Brazilian bossa nova style.

Caetano Veloso, a famous Brazilian composer and singer, made Henri Salvador famous to Brazilian audiences with the song “Reconvexo”, in which he says “quem não sentiu o swing de Henri Salvador?” (“who hasn’t felt the swing of Henri Salvador?”). Veloso also recorded a version of Salvador’s song “Dans mon île”.

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At the age of 70, Salvador was the voice-over of the crab Sebastian in the 1989 French dubbing of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Recordings of “Embrasse-la” (“Kiss the Girl”) can be found on YouTube.

Salvador discovered singers Keren Ann and Art Mengo.

He died of a ruptured aneurysm at his home in the early hours of 13 February 2008. He was 90 years of age. He was buried next to his wife Jacqueline in Père-Lachaise Cemetery.

He was known as a supporter of Paris Saint-Germain F.C. He obtained four seats for life in the Parc des Princes.

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Henri Salvador continues to be popular today among French communities in Canada. In 2000, Virgin Records released a CD featuring popular hits such as “Jazz Mediterrannée”, which continues to receive regular air play. In 2002, his album Chambre avec vue sold over two million copies. In 2005, Salvador was awarded the Brazilian Order of Cultural Merit, which he received from the acclaimed singer and Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, in the presence of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for his influence on Brazilian culture, particularly on bossa nova, to whose invention he contributed. That same year he took 52nd place in the election of Le Plus Grand Français (The Greatest Frenchman).

He was also a commander of the French Légion d’honneur and of the French National Order of Merit. In 2007, he released Révérence on V2 Records, featuring Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. He then went on to perform the track “La vie c’est la vie” from that album on an episode of the BBC programme Later… with Jools Holland aired on 4 May 2007. (by wikipedia)

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At 88 years old, Henri Salvador has been a popular figure in the French music world for quite a while (he started there in 1945). In 2000, he reinvigorated his career and reintroduced himself to the public with Chambre Avec Vue (re-released as Room with a View two years later) and since then has been going quite strong, coming out with Ma Chère et Tendre in 2003, and now Révérence in 2006. Recorded mostly in Brazil under the direction of Caetano Veloso’s — who makes an appearance here on a new version of “Dans Mon Île” — longtime producer and arranger Jaques Morelenbaum, Salvador continues his legacy as singer of the sweet melancholy. The quiet, breathy strings and soft bossa nova rhythms that are incorporated into many of the pieces on the album add to the overall poignancy of Salvador’s voice, which shows no sign of aging, still smooth and clean, reflecting the warmth of his native French Guyana.

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It works especially well on the francophone version of the classic Vinicius de Moraes/Antonio Carlos Jobim song “Eu Sei Que Voi Te Amar,” retitled “Tu Sais Je Vais T’Aimer” here (it appears twice on Révérence actually, once as a solo track and once as a duet with Gilberto Gil), where the longing and suffering of love come through in the timbre of his voice, the hesitation in his phrasing. In “Italie (Un Tableau de Maître),” he riffs on a familiar Italian melody as he reminisces about the country, talking about it like a woman he loves, even slipping into its own language for a line or so, and in “Cherche la Rose,” one of three older tracks on the album, and done with Caetano Veloso, there’s a bittersweet hesitancy to the way he sings the song 40 years after its initial release that comes only from the experience and understanding he’s gained as he’s gotten older.

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This is where he’s best, and most comfortable, and it’s what sounds the best, too, so it makes sense that most of Révérence stays in the adagio, in the reflection. In fact, it even seems a little out of place when Salvador moves into faster, jazzier pieces like the gospel-inspired “Alléluia! Je l’Ai dans la Peau” or the Frank Sinatra-esque “L’Amour Se Trouve au Coin de la Rue,” adding saxophones and bright drums and coming across slightly forced, albeit exuberant. Salvador has aged nicely, and settled down into his years, and the best bits of Révérence convey this perfectly, the life of an artist who has truly been inspired, and inspired countless others. (by Marisa Brown)

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Henri Salvador is an 89-year-old with an extraordinary history. Born in French Guyana, he moved to France as a child, joined a dance orchestra as guitarist, and ended up working in Brazil, where his songs would later influence the work of the great Tom Jobim – the greatest composer of the bossa nova era of the late 1950s. Salvador also became a celebrity, and a TV personality back in France, and he now seems poised for unlikely international success. This new set was recorded in Paris, New York and (of course) Rio, where his producer was the great Jacques Morelenbaum, who has worked with everyone from Jobim to Mariza; they were joined by Brazilian stars Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. It’s remarkable for Salvador’s effortlessly clear, perfect vocals and equally unexpected range. Many of the songs are gently charming laid-back ballads, but there’s also a swinging French-language treatment of Ray Charles, with Alleluia! Je l’Ai Dans la Peau. Alleluia, indeed. (by Robin Denselow)

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Personnel:
Patrick Artero (saxophone, trumpet)
Marcelo Bernades (flute)
Bernardo Bessler (violone)
Paulinho Braga (drums, percussion)
Denner Campolina (bass)
Mino Cinelu (drums, percussion)
Michel Coeuriot (clarinet, keyboards, oboe, synthesizer)
Thomas Coeuriot (guitar, mandoline)
Marcelo Costa (percussion)
Guy Delacroix (bass)
João Donato (piano)
Phillip Doyle (tuba)
Claude Egéa (trumpet)
Laurent Faucheux (drums)
Michel Feugère (saxophone, trumpet)
Frederic Gaillardet (piano)
Luis Galvão (guitar)
Gilberto Gil (vocals)
Alain Hatot (flute, saxophone)
Didier Havet (rombone)
Jorge Helder (bass)
Denis Leloup (trombone)
Eduardo Morelenbaum (clarinet)
Jaques Morelenbaum (cello)
Katia Pierre (flute)
Hugo Vargas Pilger (cello)
Iura Ranevsky (cello)
Rob Reddy (saxophone)
Saul Rubin (guitar)
Marcello Isdebski Salles (cello)
Henri Salvador (vocals, percussion)
Paulo Sérgio Santos (clarinet)
Eric Seva (saxophone)
Billy Jay Stein (organ)
Caetano Veloso (vocals)
Jean-Christophe Vilain (trombone)
André Villéger (flute, saxophone)
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violone(violin:
Ricardo Amado – Rick Amado – Paul Prates Barbato – Michel Bessler – José Alves Da Silva – Daniel Guedes – Antonella Pareschi – Eduardo Pereira – Paschoal Perrota – Felipe Prazeres – Rogério Rosa – Maria Christine Springuel – Ricardo Taboada
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background vocals:
Jerry Barnes – Stephanie McKay

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Tracklist:
01. La Vie C’est La Vie (Salvador) 2.24
02. Mourir à Honfleur (Salvador) 3.48
03. Dans Mon Île (Pon/Salvador) 4.56
04. Cherche La Rose (feat. Caetano Veloso) (Salvador) 4.57
05. L’ ‘Amour Se Trouve au Coin de la Rue (Salvador) 3.27
06. Tu Sais Je Vais T’Aimer (Jobim/de Moraes) 4.04
07. J’Aurais Aimé (Salvador) 2.37
08. Italie (Un Tableau de Maître) (Martinico/Salvador) 3.11
09. D’Abord (Salvador) 2.57
10. Les Amours Qu’on Delaisse (Salvador) 5.17
11. Alleluia! Je l’Ai Dans La Peau (Salvador) 2.50
12. Les Dernières Hirondelles (Salvador) 3.21
13. Tu Sais Je Vais T’Aimer (feat: Gilberto Gil) (Jobim/de Moraes) 4.05

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Henri Salvador (18 July 1917 – 13 February 2008)

Raul Midón – State Of Mind (2005)

FrontCover1.jpgRaul Midón is a contemporary singer/songwriter whose impassioned acoustic guitar playing — a mix of rock, classical, and flamenco — has gotten him just as much attention as his smooth, relaxed voice. Blind since birth, Midón was born in Embudo, New Mexico, to an Argentine father and American mother. He began playing drums early in his childhood before switching to guitar, taking in flamenco, jazz, and classical styles on his chosen instrument. He relocated to Miami for college in the ’90s and while there moonlighted as a background vocalist for Latin pop recording sessions. Midón was a remarkable talent even then, and word quickly spread of his talent as a singer and guitarist, one inspired by a crop of artists including Hermeto Pascoal, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Bill Withers.

As a solo artist, Midón made his debut on RCA with Gracias a la Vida (1999), after which he relocated to New York, where he concentrated on a solo career. Following the independent release Blind to Reality (2001), he signed with the EMI-distributed Manhattan label and released State of Mind (2005) and World Within a World (2007). The former featured appearances from Stevie Wonder and Jason Mraz and cracked the Billboard 200 chart. A short stint with Decca produced Synthesis (2010), highlighted by a cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird”; the same year, a performance in support of Marcus Miller was documented on A Night in Monte Carlo. Invisible Chains: Live from NYC (2012), self-released, preceded an association with Mack Avenue subsidiary Artistry for Don’t Hesitate (2014) and Bad Ass and Blind (2017). (by by Wade Kergan)

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Hailed as one of the breakout releases of 2005, blind guitarist Raul Midón’s major-label debut generally justifies the hype. He is a stunning acoustic guitarist with a percussive, at times Latin style, and a silky, inviting singer straight out of the Stevie Wonder/Donny Hathaway school. (Wonder plays on one track and Hathaway is the subject of another.) Midón’s major-label debut was co-helmed by Arif Mardin, the legendary producer behind Norah Jones’ successful first release. While musically there isn’t much common ground between the two artists, Mardin’s subtle, airy approach works perfectly here. He lets Midón’s expressive voice and nimble acoustic guitar set the tone, adding hints of percussion, flute, vibraphone, acoustic bass, wispy keyboards, and occasional backing vocals to flesh out the songs.

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It’s a successful formula, beefing up the music without making it overly slick. Despite the vocal similarity to Wonder, Midón establishes his own sound, singing uplifting songs of love and life with Latin and jazz flourishes that marinate in the stripped-down, acoustic arrangements. It’s pleasant enough, but even with a few left turns such as the fiery conga- and flute-driven spoken word “I Would Do Anything,” the style and songs tend to get a little repetitious as the album creeps past its midpoint. Unlike Wonder, Midón’s lovely, smooth quiet storm voice doesn’t shift often enough to a harsher side, something that would help this album shift gears out of cruise control and Sunday morning brunch mode. Regardless, this remains a beautifully focused and mature work. Midón has already found his voice and the intermingled jazz/Latin/folk/soul qualities indicate a musician who can move in any one of a number of directions after this impressive start. (by Hal Horowitz)

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Personnel:
Richard Hammond (bass)
Raul Midón (vocals, guitar)
Shedrick Mitchell (organ)
Daniel Sadownick (percussion)
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Cyro Baptista (percussion on 11.)
Jerry Barnes (bass on 06. + 08.
Sammy Figeroua (percussion on 12.)
Lisa Fisher (background vocals on  04., 07. + 13.)
Stefon Harris (vibraphone on 07. + 13.)
Donny Hathaway (vocals on 08.)
Joe Mardin (piano on 03., drums on 09., percussion on 11.)
Gregoire Maret (harmonica on 11.)
Jonathan Maron (bass on 02.)
Jason Mraz (vocals, guitar on 03.)
Eric Revis (bass on 11.)
Dave Valentine (flute on 12.)
Stevie Wonder (harmonica on 07.)

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Tracklist:
01. State Of Mind (Midón) 3.25
02. If You Gonna Leave (Midón) 3.52
03. Keep On Hoping (Midón(Mraz) 4.33
04. Mystery Girl (Midón) 4.23
05. Waited All My Life (Midón) 4.36
06. Everybody (Midón) 4.01
07.  Expressions Of Love (Midón) 2.50
08. Sittin’ In The Middle (Midón) 3.32
09. Suddenly (Midón) 3.32
10. Never Get Enough (Midón) 3.46
11. Sunshine (I Can Fly) (Menedez/Midón/Vega) 4.34
12. I Would Do Anything (Midón) 3.34
13. All In Your Mind (Fournier/Midón) 3.18

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