Quinta-feira, 10 de Maio de 2007

Maria Anadon: A Jazzy Way - Featuring Five Play’s Women of the World

Notes by Will Friedwald

It took me about two seconds to get it. But now I got it. And I like it. What we have here is a Portuguese singer, steeped in the Portuguese-Brazilian musical idioms (including bossa nova, along with many other forms of the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking worlds), singing The Great American Songbook (plus one Antonio Carlos Jobim standard thrown in as dessert) with an American jazz group.
 
Even without the parenthetical specifics, I don’t know of any other album like this.   The bossa nova, though born in Brazil, had been, from the beginning, deeply influenced by American jazz and pop. Yet ever since the music washed up on the shores of North America the channels of communication generally operated in only one direction. From Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz onwards, North American musicians and singers have joyfully adopted the Brazilian idiom in general and the songs of Jobim and Joao Gilberto specifically. Yet it has been rare to find Brazilians and Portuguese musicians bringing South American rhythms to North American songs. When Frank Sinatra recorded his classic collaboration with Jobim in 1967, he included a few well-known songs by Irving Berlin, among others, but that, in general was an exception. (Another such exception occurred more recently when the jazz singer Mark Murphy recorded The Latin Porter, a set of Cole Porter songs in Pan American styles.)
 
Yet it’s hard to think of a case of a Latin singer doing North American music to a Brazilian beat, especially as the focus of an entire album. Ms. Anadon is well known in the Latin world for her mastery of the various idioms, such as bossa nova, salsa, fado, Afro Cuban (and probably choro, tango, mariachi and even zarzuela as well, I shouldn’t be surprised). For this project, she addresses a variety of styles and techniques associated with the United States, moving well beyond the boundaries of latin jazz into straight 4/4 swingtime, scat singing, blues, ballads, bebop, vocalese, and show music.
 
Ms. Anadon’s collaborators are every bit as multi-cultural as she is.
 
The group Five Play, which is, in this case, four musicians drawn from the ranks of the all-female big band Diva, has re-morphed into another subdivision, this one entitled “Five Play’s Women Of The World.” The combo is accurately described as an American band, even though only drummer and leader Sherrie Maricle was born in this hemisphere. The rest of the rhythm section, Tomoko Ohno, piano, and Noriko Ueda, bass, comes from Japan, and the star multi-reed player, Anat Cohen, is Israeli. The fifth member is, for this project, the Portuguese-born Ms. Anadon. 
One thing that Ms. Anadon does do very consistently is bring a fresh and original approach to every song she sings, using the bossa beat more or less as a jumping-off point rather than a final destination. She turns the famous Finian’s Rainbow aria Old Devil Moon into a fast and funky samba, further animated by scat interjections, while I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, becomes an introverted, reflective piece spotlighting Ms. Cohen’s formidable clarinet playing. Ms. Ueda’s bass solo is supported lightly but strongly by finger cymbals, triangles, and other percussion instruments from Ms. Maricle.
 
Ms. Anadon is obviously trying to tell us something in moving from a song about wanting to know something to a song about reassuring what one already knows. Confirmation is a rare Charlie Parker original not based on the blues or standard chord changes, and a piece widely heard since the ‘50s. It has existed in many guises – John Coltrane reworked it into 26-2 and Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis called it I Know (get it?) – but this lyric by singer and ornithologist Sheila Jordan is the most substantially vocal version. Like Ms. Jordan, Ms. Anadon skillfully negotiates this intricate melody and tricky text, even in this breathless bebop tempo.
 
The other vocalese-like number, which is to say, a case when words have been added to a famous jazz instrumental, is arranger Oliver Nelson’s most famous composition, Stolen Moments. Mark Murphy added these words roughly a decade after the fact, by which time the piece had become a jazz standard. Ms. Anadon shifts the perspective to a female one and also improves on some of the more awkward spots in the text.   Here, Ms. Cohen evokes the distinctive, buoyantly-toned tenor players of the ‘60s, like Joe Henderson and Hank Mobley.
 
Stolen Moments is also Nelson’s elaboration on the minor-key blues form (he published it in C-minor, 15 bars rather than 12) and Black Coffee is fundamentally the 12-bar blues. Composer Sonny Burke was inspired by an ancient blues line that turned up earlier in Mary Lou Williams’s What’s Your Story, Morning Glory and later in Heartbreak Hotel. Both Ms. Anadon and Ms. Cohen, playing her funkiest tenor ever here, treat it like a pure blues, accompanied for the most part only by Ms. Ueda’s bass. The instrumental coda, in which Ms. Anadon, humming and moaning, and Ms. Cohen, weave in and out of each other, is for me the beauty part of the track.
 
You Don’t Know What Love Is (introduced by the under-appreciated jazz singer and comic Martha Raye) also comes out of the spirit of the blues. Composers Don Raye and Gene DePaul were actually quite well-immersed in the blues tradition, and they would write a number of successful songs in that idiom. Ms. Anadon and Ms. Cohen also treat You Don’t Know… (published in F minor) like a pure minor blues, albeit one with a bridge, and they get in some of their funkiest moments here.
 
Ms. Maricle and Ms. Ohno sit out on Black Coffee (perhaps they’re tea drinkers); My One And Only Love is primarily just Ms. Anadon and Ms. Ohno, although the rest of the quintet re-enters at the end of the first chorus. Tenderly is voice and piano all the way, in the tradition of the duet recording by Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. To me, these are the prettiest ballads of the set. 
 
The fastest tearer-upper is Bob Dorough’s rootin’ and tootin’ Devil May Care, a tune that is fast becoming a modern day jazz perennial. Comes Love is from a long-forgotten revue called Yokel Boy, in which it was introduced by hillbilly commedienne Judy Canova. The song was widely recorded in 1939 but then forgotten for 15 years until Sylvia Syms resurrected it 15 years later, and for the last 50 years has been one of the most popular tunes among vocal jazzers. Ms. Anadon’s vocal conveys not only a keen sense of time but also one of humor, in that lyricist Lew Brown’s rhythmic jokes are not easy to pull off even for a native English speaker. Both Anadon and Cohen, demonstrating her formidable skill on the clarinet, are as sinewy and insinuating as love itself, both voices suggesting the original serpent who tempting Adam and Eve, in a minor key lament (published in G minor) that sounds equal parts Havana and Tel Aviv.
 
Equally tricky is I’m Old Fashioned which is sort of both old-fashioned and new-fangled at the same time; Ms. Anadon and Ms. Cohen begin by intertwining together (otherwise unaccompanied) in a contrapuntal cadenza, finding the same baroque core in Jerome Kern’s music that George Shearing (and others) have famously found in Kern’s Pick Yourself Up. When they get to the chorus, it goes into straight ahead swing, with all four instruments trading fours around the drums (and Ms. Ohno quoting I Got Rhythm in the process) and building to a boppish closer.
 
Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? is entirely unpredictable: without getting into the cultural ramifications of a Portuguese singer doing an American show tune originally written in an English cockney accent (nobody on this side of the Atlantic ever said “loverly,” with the possible exception of Al Hibbler). More to the point, here is a gentle air written in a harmless two-four aggressively revved up into a almost abrasively hard-swinging four.   Done by Ms. Anadon and the rhythm section alone.   Ms. Ohno is the most prominently featured co-star here, and her phrasing and rhythmic accents are tellingly Basie-esque.
 
Appropriately for a song introduced by Tony Bennett, Ms. Anadon employs a sense of dynamics informed by both Mr. Bennett and Count Basie on The Best Is Yet To Come. She starts small and quiet with just the trio, then kicks the excitement up a notch with the entrance of Ms. Cohen about halfway through. The idea of the best being yet to come is more than a song title, because it leads directly into the kind of music that Ms. Anadon does best of all, in her original idiom, Jobim’s One Note Samba
 
As mentioned at the beginning, this South American standard serves as a sort of chaser shot for the 13 North American standards that preceded it. Like Duke Ellington’s C-Jam Blues, it demands rhythmic virtuousity on the part of the interpreter since nearly all of the medley is done on a single note. She does in a quick, brief chorus that proves that brevity is the soul of swing, and sometimes the most important part of swinging is knowing exactly where to cut off a note. Or when to end an album. Or even a liner note. Like here.
           
Will Friedwald
September 2006
(Will Friedwald is the jazz reviewer for The New York Sun, and the author of seven books on music and popular culture.).

publicado por mariaanadon às 15:41

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3 comentários:
De Credito Pessoal a 11 de Maio de 2010 às 11:12
Uma Review toda marcante, parabéns.
De pharmacy a 23 de Agosto de 2011 às 16:59
Just wanted to thank you, not just because the nice post, but pretty much more because my grandfather is nearly recovering from his surgery and he has almost nothing to do but staying on bed all day, his best source of entertainment has been this blog and I feel this is something good for him and his recovery.
De jogos de futebol a 26 de Agosto de 2011 às 15:17
Desconheço se já estavas pelo universo destes blogs a bastante pois só neste momento encontrei o seu, mas tens um bom jeito para isto continua assim :D

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