Eliane Elias was born on March 19, 1960 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and her musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven, and by age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. Fifteen, saw her teaching piano and improvisation and her performing career began at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the poet Vinicius de Moraes.
In 1981, she headed for New York and a year later landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent in the Critics Poll of Jazziz magazine, together with Herbie Hancock she was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Jazz Solo Performance” category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets, received the Downbeat Readers Poll’s “Best Jazz Album” for her recording The Three Americas and has been named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year.
Elias has recorded with RCA Victor, Bluebird, Denon, Manhattan, Blue Note, EMI, Concord/Picante, ECM and Savoy Jazz spanning over twenty albums to date. She has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim, winning Best Vocal Album in Japan and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll. She has been featured in a Calle 54 documentary, received several Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album, and recorded with Denyce Graves on The Lost Days.
On her first album titled “Amanda” released in 1984 she collaborated with Randy Brecker and shortly thereafter she began her solo career. She has also collaborated with bassist Marc Johnson on the album Swept Away. Pianist, singer, arranger and songwriter Eliane Elias, known for her distinctive blend of her Brazilian roots with voice, jazz and classical music, continues to compose, record, perform and tour.
Sofia Ribeiro was born on March 18, 1978 in Lisboa, Portugal. She graduated with a degree in jazz performance from “Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo do Porto”, did a one year exchange program in Barcelona at “Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya”, and another one on scholarship at Berklee College of Music. She also received a master’s degree in jazz performance from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, and went on to study for one year at the “Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris”.
Ribeiro has recorded five CDs in duo and quartet settings, performed children’s music written for books, has toured throughout Europe performing at the Sunset Jazz Club, Jamboree, Silesian Jazz Festival as well as the Kennedy Center and Berklee Performance Center among others.,
Sofia has taken 1st prize at the international competitions “Crest Jazz Vocal” in France, 1st prize at the international competition for singing musicians “Voicingers” in Poland, and 2nd prize at the “Brussels International Young Jazz Singers Competition”, and was a part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Vocalist and composer Sofia Ribeiro has developed strong and emotional performances blending elements of jazz, Brazilian and Portuguese music within her charming and powerful sound. She continues to perform, record and tour.
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Flora Purim was born on March 6, 1942 in Rio de Janeiro to Jewish parents who were both classical musicians, her father a violinist and her mother a pianist. She discovered jazz when her mother played 78 vinyl rpms of Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, and Erroll Garner while her husband was out of the house.
Purim began her career in Brazil during the early 1960s. During this period, she made a recording of bossa nova standards by Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal titled Flora e M.P.M. Later in the decade she became lead singer for the Quarteto Novo, led by Hermeto Pascoal and Airto Moreira.
Flora mixed jazz with radical protest songs to defy the repressive Brazilian government of that time and a 1964 military coup led to censorship of song lyrics. Shortly before leaving Brazil she married Airto and arriving in New York in 1967, they became immersed in the emerging Electric Jazz. They toured Europe with Stanley Clarke, Stan Getz and Gil Evans. In 1972, alongside Clarke and Joe Farrell, they were, for the first two albums, members of Return To Forever. That year the band released their debut self-titled album Return To Forever, followed the same year as Light as a Feather.
In 1973, Purim released her first solo album in the United States, titled Butterfly Dreams. She was chosen by the Down Beat reader’s poll as one of the top five jazz singers. She worked with Carlos Santana and Mickey Hart and throughout the 1970s, Flora released a string of albums for the Milestone label, became involved with the Uruguayan band Opa, (which means “hi” in Uruguay), Purim collaborated in vocals in the band’s second album Magic Time, and in return, Opa played in “Corre Niña” on Flora’s album Nothing Will Be as It Was…Tomorrow .
In the 1980s Purim toured with Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra, culminating with Gillespie’s Grammy Award-winning album Dizzy Gillespie and the United Nation Orchestra – Live at the Royal Festival Hall, London. The Nineties saw her singing on the Grammy Award-winning album Planet Drum by Mickey Hart, the release of her own album and world tour, Speed of Light and a new band with contributions from Billy Cobham, George Duke, Alphonso Johnson, Giovanni Hidalgo and others.
Through the 1990s, Purim worked on a number of Latin projects, collaborated with P.M. Dawn on the album Red Hot + Rio. She has a huge catalogue of music that showcases her rare six-octave voice renders a vocal style influenced by Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, drifting from lyrics to wordlessness without ever losing touch with the melody and rhythm. She broadened her repertoire to include traditional mainstream jazz, bebop and doing numbers in 4/4 time instead of the traditional Brazilian 2/4 beat. She is a 4-time winner Down Beat’s Best Female Jazz Vocalist and 2-time Grammy nominee for Best Female Jazz Performance and has been named “Order of Rio Branco” by Brazil President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. She continues to perform, record and tour.
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Vinicius de Moraes was born Marcus Vinicius de Moraes on October 19, 1913 in Rio de Janiero, Brasil. As a child he was exposed to various musicians and composers and in high school he was writing his first compositions. He went on to graduate college at twenty and published two books of poetry.
Over the next several years he held a variety of banking, government and diplomatic positions while still writing and publishing his poetry. But it wasn’t until the ‘50s that he moved into the realm of pop culture. He studied film festival management, wrote his first samba, contributed lyrics to several classical pieces and in 1956 Vinicius staged his musical play Orfeu da Conceicao that would later become Orfeu Negro or Black Orpheus and win an Academy Award for Best For Language Film in 1959, a British Academy Award and the French Palm d’Or at Cannes.
Collaborating with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Moraes was at the fore when the bossa nova movement began with the release of Elizete Cardoso’s album Cancao do Amor Demais that consisted of the pairs music and a then unknown Joao Gilberto. They went on to compose Garota de Ipanema, Insensitez and Chega de Saudade. Vinicius’ songs would go on to be included in another Cannes winner Un Homme et une Femme (A Man and A Woman) in 1966.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Vinicius continued collaborating with many renowned Brazilian singers and musicians, in particular with Baden Powell venturing into Afro-Brazilian influences that came to be known as collectively as Afro-Sambas. A known bohemian and diplomat, Vinicius also had a problem with alcohol that ultimately had him drummed out of the diplomatic corps by the military regime. But with his new partner, guitarist and singer Toquinho, he continued to realize success on both music and literary landscapes releasing several popular and influential albums.
Vinicius de Moraes, composer, playwright and diplomat nicknamed O Poetinha (The Little Poet), passed away on July 9, 1980 in Rio de Janiero after a long spell of poor health. Hundreds of jazz musicians and performers worldwide have recorded more than 400 of his songs. In 2006 he was reinstated into the diplomatic corps and in 2010 was posthumously promoted to the post of Ambassador by the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies.
Charlie Lee Byrd was born on September 16, 1925 in Suffolk, Virginia but grew up in Chuckatuck, Virginia and his father taught him to play the acoustic steel guitar at age 10. He went on to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, served in the Army and played in the Special Services band in Paris. Returning to New York he studied composition at Hamett National Music School, taking up classical guitar.
Charlie moved to Washington, D.C. in 1950 and studied classical guitar with Sophocles Papas, then with Andre Segovia. By 1957 he teamed up with bassist Keter Betts and started gigging around D.C. for two years, joined Woody Herman for a State Department goodwill tour.
Byrd was first introduced to Brazilian music by his friend radio host Felix Grant who was well known in Brazil in 1960. A subsequent tour of Brazil and he returned home with recordings from Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. He met with Stan Getz who convinced Creed Taylor, then at Verve Records to produce the album, recording “Jazz Samba” in 1962 in a building adjacent to All Souls Unitarian Church because of the excellent acoustics found there. And his love affair with Brazilian music began.
Over the course of his career he has toured the world, performed at numerous festivals, played with such jazz legends as Les McCann, Zoot Sims, Vince Guaraldi, his brother bassist Joe Byrd, Chuck Redd, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and the list goes on.
Charlie Byrd died of lung cancer on December 2, 1999 at his home in Annapolis, Maryland. He was deemed a Maryland Art Treasure in 1997 and knighted by the government of Brazil as the Knight of the Rio Branco.
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