01 – The Girl from Ipanema / Garota de Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, Norman Gimbel)
02 – Copa Village (Antonio Adolfo, Hendrik Meurkens)
03 – Show de Bola (Hendrik Meurkens, Paulo Sergio Valle)
04 – O Boto (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jararaca)
05 – Como se Fosse (Hendrik Meurkens, Ana Terra)
06 – Agua de Beber (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
07 – Pois é (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chico Buarque)
08 – Pretty World (Antonio Adolfo, Tiberio Gaspar, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman)
09 – Two Kites (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
10 – Nosso Mundo (Hendrik Meurkens, Ana Terra)
11 – Visao (Antonio Adolfo, Tiberio Gaspar)
Carol Saboya – vocal
Hendrik Meurkens – harmonica, vibraphone
Antonio Adolfo – production, arrangements & piano
Claudio Spiewak – acoustic and electric guitars
Itaiguara Brandão – bass
Adriano Santos – drums
André Siqueira – percussion
In the late 50s and early 60s, Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana sector (immortalized to Brazilians – especially those from Rio known as Cariocas – as Copa) was as important a musical breeding ground for Bossa Nova, as New York’s 52nd Street was for Jazz during the Bebop era. Here Brazil’s finest and most innovative musicians gathered to share ideas, explore new concepts and eventually create a sensational new genre known as Bossa Nova. Fans of the music could travel from club to club every night to feast upon this exciting new music. During these same years, jazz fans in New York’s Greenwich Village could partake nightly in the new developments in jazz in the plentiful clubs on that scene. The similarities between these two legendary musical Meccas provide the concept behind AAM Music’s Copa Village – a brilliant collaboration by vocalist Carol Saboya, composer/arranger/pianist Antonio Adolfo and composer/harmonica master/vibraphonist Hendrik Meurkens.
For more than 40 years Antonio has been exploring the rich confluence between Brazilian music and jazz, while informing worldwide music audiences as to the enormous scope and depth of the musical heritage of his native country. He and the award-winning Brazilian-born Carol have collaborated extensively since she began her singing career in 1996. In addition to his highly acclaimed jazz recordings and performances, Hendrik has been a longtime explorer of Brazilian music; and when they all had the opportunity to perform together in New York and Florida, the shared musical vision was fully apparent. Clearly, this collaborative recording was destined to occur, and following some New York performances in July of 2014, they decided the time was right. As this new album – beautifully arranged and produced by Antonio – vividly reveals, the results are extraordinary.
To fully deliver this project to its maximum potential the trio added a pair of exceptional New York Brazilian musicians – bassist Itaiguara Brandão and drummer Adriano Santos – along with Rio-based percussionist Andre Siqueira and longtime Adolfo collaborator, the Florida-based guitarist Claudio Spiewak.
Although the musical inspiration looks back to an era more than half a century past, the music is utterly contemporary. Like all great jazz, it is evolved from the traditions and looking toward the future, pursuing adventurousness and innovation without losing track of the roots.
The ensemble work is truly outstanding. The resonant lyricism of the bass and the spirited inventiveness and flawless rhythmic dexterity of the drums and percussion blend seamlessly into a single entity with a synergy that is consummate. Spiewak’s guitar provides a presence that is so subtly understated, but still so essential to the core of the music, that its absence would create a huge void.
Carol’s enthralling and beautiful voice, with impeccable intonation and a liquid clarity akin to flute or trumpet – is perfectly suited to the wonderful compositions. The virtuosity and vivid musicality of Antonio and Hendrik – whether soloing or enhancing each other and Carol – are simply sublime. And Hendrik’s counter melodies throughout the album (many of them of his own creation) add a most singular and delightful flavor.
The repertoire has been selected with love and a clear sense of expressive continuity, not just painting a portrait of Copa, but telling its story in a rich, narrative texture that allows the listener to bathe in its essence in a most visceral manner. Of course, the presence of the immortal Antonio Carlos Jobim is invoked, with five of his compositions included. Two of them are quite familiar, but both are inspired re-imaginations that defy the expected. The iconic The Girl from Ipanema/Garota de Ipanema opens the album with a unique arrangement, adventurous harmonies, surprising chord voicings and floating rhythms. Carol sings both Norman Gimbel’s English lyrics and the Portuguese by Vinicius de Moraes; and Hendrik’s splendid harmonica solo is a highlight. Agua de Beber (Water to Drink) is set apart from its hundreds of other interpretations with bold harmonic and rhythmic variations, riveting solos by Hendrik and Antonio, and a deliciously funky samba in the intro. Carol’s voice smoothly transitions between the sound of a harmon-muted trumpet and dulcet flute.
The other Jobim items, while better known in Brazil are less familiar elsewhere, but all breathtakingly beautiful. O Boto (River Dolphin) is in the Baião style. Carol’s superb interpretation of this Jobim/Jararaca collaboration is dramatic, almost spoken, and most expressive; and Antonio’s piano solo is exciting, building to a gentle but potent boil. Pois É (That’s It) tenderly unfolds like a flower in the morning sun. Carol offers a lovely interpretation of the Chico Buarque lyrics and the rhythms provide churning waters for Hendrik’s fluid harmonica to float upon, increasing in intensity into a spirited samba feel in the coda. Two Kites, originally composed in the so-called “locomotive music” style is blended here with a Bossa groove, gaining steam from the moment it pulls out of the station, and building to its fervent finale whose repetitive chords call to mind Maiden Voyage.
The other six pieces are by Adolfo and Meurkens – two by Antonio, three by Hendrik and the co-written title track.
Meurkens collaborates with the great Brazilian lyricist Ana Terra on two songs. Como se Fosse (As If It Was) is a lovely serene ballad that displays Carol’s great range and harmonic versatility. Nosso Mundo (Our World) is deliciously suspended, with a dynamically charged harmonica solo stoked by Antonio’s vigorous comping and a throbbing rhythm section. The noted Brazilian lyricist Paulo Sergio Valle provided the lyrics for Show de Bola (Awesome) the only piece that features Hendrik on vibraphone. With the extra buoyancy provided by his resonant vibes, Carol’s lilting vocal, a lively percussive thrust, and Meurkens’ striking solo make this piece shine. The co-composed instrumental Copa Village is a jubilant, effervescent mix of Bossa/Samba and Choro, structured in infectious descending patterns. Carol scats joyously and sparkling solos by Antonio, Hendrik and Claudio add a festive flair.
Antonio originally composed Sa Marina in Brazil with Tiberio Gaspar. As Pretty World (with English lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman) it has been recorded previously by Sergio Mendes, Stevie Wonder, Earl Klugh and others. An uplifting and joyful song with a terrific new arrangement by Antonio, this features an exuberant vocal by Carol, who also adds fine background to Meurkens’ enthusiastic solo.
This exceptional album closes with Antonio’s poignant, exquisite ballad Visao (Vision), performed as an instrumental with Carol’s wordless invocation of the beautiful melody. Originally recorded 45 years ago by harmonica giant Toots Thielemans on Aquarela do Brasil, the momentous collaboration with Brazilian legend Elis Regina – a project that was the earlier incarnation of Copa Village – this captivating new arrangement closes the circle and the album in a deeply sensitive and most enchanting manner.
The reunion of the three great artists with other great Brazilian musicians demonstrates clearly the organic and timeless blend of Jazz and Bossa Nova continuing in its sumptuous evolution with some new harmonic and rhythmic concepts. For more information about this Copa Village album and these luminous artists, visit: