A new album “Copa Village” (AAM Music) represents a collaboration between Brazilian singer Carol Saboya, her father, pianist and composer-arranger Antonio Adolfo, and the German born vibraphonist-harmonica player, Hendrik Meurkens. “Copa” in the disc title refers to Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana section, while the Village refers to Greenwich Village, both being musical meccas in the 1950s and 1960s, when Brazilian and jazz musicians began collaborating in earnest with the emergence of bossa nova in the United States.
In 1969, Antonio Adolfo was the pianist with the legendary Brazilian singer Elis Regina who had just met Toots Thielemans in Stockholm and they recorded a classic recording “Elis & Toots – Aquarela do Brasil.” Several years later he met Meurkens who he refers to as “another incredible harmonica player.” They have played together several times, including in Summer 2014 in New York City with his daughter Carol, leading to the recording of this album.
For this recording, they are joined by guitarist Claudio Spiewak, bassist Itaguara Brandão, drummer Adriano Santos and percussionist André Siqueira for some fresh takes of Brazilian music, including renditions of five songs penned by Antonio Carlos Jobim, a collaboration between Adolfo and Meurkens, three from Meurkens and two from Adolfo. Included are several celebrated Brazilian music classics starting with the lovely “The Girl From Ipanema (Garota de Ipanema),” and “Aqua De Beber (Water to Drink),” both by Jobim, and Adolfo’s “Pretty World” (with English lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman).
Listening to her lovely singing on “The Girl From Ipanema,” one cannot avoid noting her rendition holds up well to the famous Astrid Gilberto rendition with Meurkens’ harmonica adding to the charm. “Copa Village,” a collaboration between Adolfo and Meurkens, is a breezy, captivating performance with Saboya’s charming wordless singing serving as an additional horn-like voice to the harmonica with some lovely piano as the rhythm section provided solid, restrained support. Meurkens Show De Bola (lyrics by Paulo Sergio Valle) is a lively number with the wonderful singing spiced by Meurkens on vibraphone. The rendition of “Aqua De Beber” is terrific with marvelous harmonica solo and Adolfo’s likewise marvelous piano. Saboya delights on her father’s “Pretty World,” that some may know from recordings by Sergio Mendes and Stevie Wonder.
Adolfo’s “Visão,” with a lovely Saboya wordless invocation of the melody, is the final track. This song was originally recorded by Elis Regina and Toots Thielemans on “Aquarela do Brasil” and provides a fitting conclusion for this recording. “Copa Village” is an excellent, enchanting recording that fans of Brazilian music will savor. Ron Weinstock