Stars of Brazil – Artists

Oscar Castro-Neves | Leny Andrade & Romero LubamboClaudia Villela  | Brasilia

“Stars of Brazil”

Sunday June 6 – Bossa Nova on the Green

Location: Recreation Park
Address: Piper at University, Healdsburg
Two shows: 12:30 – 6:30 pm
Tickets: $30 General, $20 Students or Seniors (65+), Children 10 and under free

oscar castro-nevesOscar Castro-Neves Quartet

“Oscar can capture the soul of Brazil in a few guitar chords, all the joy and sadness.”
—Toots Thielemans

As a teenager growing up in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s, guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves helped shape the rising bossa nova movement, and he’s been at the center of Brazilian and American popular music ever since. While he’s lived in the United States for more than three decades, his musical world is still defined by his Rio upbringing.

A master guitarist, effective vocalist, and brilliant arranger/composer Castro-Neves made his mark at 16, when a chance encounter with singer Alaide Costa led to her recording a hit version of his seminal bossa nova “Chora Tua Tristeza” (Cry Your Sadness). He was one of the featured artists at the legendary 1962 Carnegie Hall concert that introduced the bossa nova pantheon to North America, performing alongside Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Later in the decade he helped spread Brazilian music throughout the U.S. as the guitarist and music director of Sergio Mendes’ tremendously popular band.

Castro-Neves went on to a prolific career as a freelance performer and studio musician, collaborating with a mind-boggling array of artists, including Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and Quincy Jones. He’s had a particular affinity for jazz, recording with Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and more recently Toot Thielemans, with whom he tours regularly.

His Healdsburg band features a dazzling cast of musicians whose bossa nova-steeped repertoire offers a sensual journey to the heart of Brazil.

His Healdsburg band features a dazzling cast of musicians whose bossa nova-steeped repertoire offers a sensual journey to the heart of Brazil, including saxophonist Gary Meek, who has toured and recorded extensively with Brazilian icons Flora Purim and Airto while also co-leading the popular Brazilian jazz combo Fourth World with pianist Jose Neto. Sri Lankan electric bass expert Hussain Jiffry, an ace LA studio player with a vast and impressive resume, and Puerto Rican drummer Walter Rodriguez, a protégé of Alex Acuña, make up the supremely flexible, stylistically encompassing rhythm section.

LenyAndradeLeny Andrade and
Romero Lubambo Duo

“The Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald of Brazilian music.”
—The New York Times

On a scene bursting with sumptuously talented singers, Leny Andrade has long stood out in Brazil with her warm, burnished contralto and her lithe, flowing phrasing. While she’s never attained the crossover success of Elis Regina, Andrade is widely hailed as Brazil’s greatest living jazz singer, a gifted improviser who combines bossa nova’s luscious melodic sensibility with a compelling sense of swing.

Often described as Brazil’s Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, the jazz singer she resembles most is Carmen McRae. Like Carmen, she puts her relatively small range to masterly use as a storyteller with a well-honed sense of drama. She caresses the rounded Portuguese vowels with such expressive care one needn’t understand the Romero Lubambolanguage to sense a song’s narrative. She’s also a supremely inventive scat singer fluent in samba-jazz, a self-invented style that requires rarified rhythmic agility.

Now at the peak of her powers, the Rio de Janeiro native won a Latin Grammy Award in 2007 for her ravishing duo CD “Ao Vivo” with pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano. For her Healdsburg appearance she collaborates with another superlative Brazilian jazz musician, New York-based guitarist Romero Lubambo. Lubambo is probably best known for his work with Trio da Paz and his series of stunning duo projects with vocalist Luciana Souza, but he’s also recorded two gorgeous duo sessions with Andrade, 1994’s “Coisa Fina” and 2006’s “Lua Do Arpoador.” Together, the spin enthralling samba jazz tales full of subtle dynamics and spontenious invention.

ClaudiaClaudia Villela Band

“Claudia Villela is a musical conjurer, a captivating performer who rarely needs more than one song to transform unsuspecting audiences into passionate fans.”
—Boston Globe

Claudia Villela’s voice gets all the attention, and it’s easy to understand why. Her glorious five-octave instrument is one of the wonders of jazz, lithe and startlingly beautiful in every register. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, she is a supremely inventive scat singer with a vivid vocabulary of sounds, an aural conjurer who can evoke the hollow thump of a tabla drum, the muted trumpet of Miles Davis, the insistent twang of a berimbau, the ethereal call of a flute, or the distortion-laden licks of Jimi Hendrix. But it’s a serious mistake to let her gorgeous voice overshadow her other musical talents.

Based in Northern California since the mid-1980s, Villela has evolved into an expressive pianist and percussionist and an ingenious composer and lyricist with an astonishing body of original material, as well as a repertoire of jewels from the Brazilian songbook.Whether writing at the piano or generating spontaneous tunes in the studio, as on her lavishly praised 2004 duo session with piano legend Kenny Werner, “DreamTales” (Adventure Music), Villela possesses a rare gift for melodic invention, coupled with a rhythmic sensibility steeped in Brazil’s vast treasury of syncopation.

While once described as the best-kept Brazilian secret in North America, Villela finally attained widespread recognition with the 2003 release of her masterpiece “InverseUniverse” (Adventure Music), a program of dazzling original pieces created with her longtime collaborator, Rio-born guitarist Ricardo Peixoto, who will be joining her on stage for this gig. The exquisite harmonica contributions of guest star Toots Thielemans fulfilled Villela’s ambition of working with jazz’s foremost aficionado of Brazilian music.

In recent years, Villela’s international reputation as a performer and composer has continued to grow through appearances at the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and clubs. In the fall of 2008, she received a high profile commission from New York University commissioned to set poems by several Latin American poets to music. Her performance with acclaimed Brazilian singer and composer Dori Caymmi was broadcast nationally as part of National Public Radio’s “JazzSet.” In addition to Peixoto, her band for this performance includes Gary Brown and Paul Vanwanagagen.  

Pamela DiggsBrasilia

with Ted Moore and Pamela Driggs

“Pamela’s voice is a remarkable instrument, defining the bittersweet edge of the Brazilian style with deft perfection.”
—Jazziz

When vocalist Pamela Driggs fell in love with Brazilian music, she decided to go right to the source, Salvador, the capital of Bahia, the state known as the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture. After honing her command of Portuguese and deepening her knowledge of Brazil’s countless melodies and rhythms, she returned to the States and founded the Brazilian jazz group Brasilia with composer/drummer Ted Moore, who followed a similar path.

ted mooreNow director of UC Berkeley’s Jazz Department, Moore lived in Rio for two years, serving as percussionist with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra while also performing with many top-flight Brazilian jazz artists. Joining forces with Driggs, they released “River Wide” (Kokopelli), which received rapturous critical praise. Driggs made her solo debut with 2000’s “Midnight Sun” (Aosis), a buoyant session featuring American standards, Brazilian classics, pop originals and bossa nova gems. She recorded her Aosis follow up, 2002’s “Itacuruçá,” in Rio with the city’s best jazz musicians.

Over the past decade she’s performed and recorded with a stellar roster of artists, including Sadao Watanabe, Herbie Mann, Nana Vasconcelos, Cesar Camargo Mariano, and Cyro Baptista. The latest incarnation of Brasilia includes bassist Gary Brown, who’s toured and recorded extensively with Flora Purim and Airto, and Driggs’ husband Romero Lubambo, the remarkable Brazilian jazz guitarist sought after by vocalists such as Dianne Reeves, Leny Andrade, Jane Monheit, and Luciana Souza for his consummate skills as an accompanist.