Minas Gerais Wealth
The landlocked state of Minas Gerais has given Brazil many renowned artists. Anyone who has been exposed to a little more than “The Girl from Ipanema” is bound to recognize at least one or more of these names: Ary Barroso, Toninho Horta, Clara Nunes, Tavinho Moura, Wagner Tiso, Milton Nascimento (though born in Rio, he moved to Minas Gerais when he was only one and a half years old) and Fernando Brant. Though the state takes its name from its rich mineral wealth, there must also be something in the water or in the air. With so many talents, how else would we explain the quality of the music that comes from Minas Gerais? Add to the names above newcomer Fabiana Passoni, who also happens to come from the same city Fernando Brant was born in: Poços de Caldas.
Passoni has been singing since age six, when she used to sing along with her dad at home. At age 12, she turned down a recording contract, but never stopped singing. A few years later, she left Brazil to pursue a musical career in New York. The dream did not last very long. Unfortunately, as is the case in Brazil, most venues today want singers to perform what really sells: pop, rock and axé. Passoni is in an entirely different group. She states her musical influences are Leny Andrade, Elis Regina and Ella Fitzgerald. So, instead of giving in to marketing, Passoni crossed coasts and landed in California. It was there that one day, on a beach, she had the inspiration to write the title track for her first solo album, É Minha Vez (It’s My Turn). With that unapologetic song she sings of the time that has come. No more crying, no pretending. This time people will hear her voice and music. And here she is!
The album, produced and and beautifully arranged by Dirk Freymuth, features original tracks and some quite interesting surprises. The baião fusion in the title track presents Passoni strong vocals. Her voice is unique and captivating, sometimes even a little nasal and always impassioned. She brings to the songs she performs a fresh approach infused with some typical Brazilian way (jeitinho). The band that works with her is one of the nicest surprises in the album. For example, in the delicious samba “Isso É Hora?” there is a fantastic trombone solo by Eric Jorgensen. He nearly steals Passoni’s vocals with his spirited presence.
Who would think that a Beach Boys song such as “Darlin'” would so well fit a baião beat? It does and is also a dynamite arrangement. That’s creativity! Berimbau, triangle, trumpet and flute solos are full of energy, and Passoni’s voice is airy and lively. Navigating back to Bossa Nova roots, the lovely “Escondido” is paradisiacal. The soft acoustic guitar beautifully performed by Kléber Jorge along with Sandro Feliciano’s drums and Octavio Bailly’s rich acoustic bass set the tone for one of the most beautiful tracks of the album. Passoni’s voice seamlessly goes from English to Portuguese in a sensual bossa. Robert Kyle’s sax solo is fiery and passionate. I could listen to this track over and over and never get tired of it. Of the four Brazilian standards featured in the album — “Canto de Ossanha,” “Nada Será Como Antes,” “Tarde em Itapoã” and “Samba do Soho” — a tip of the hat is given to the nice arrangement for “Nada Será Como Antes.” Wayne Jones’ keyboard introduction brings in a nice rock ballad arrangement, quite different from any other arrangement you have ever heard for this tune. It works well and is very fitting.
Fabiana Passoni is making her presence heard in this polished debut album. From the pleasing graphic art work to the wonderful arrangements and performances, É Minha Vez (It’s My Turn) is a strong debut from a singer with a charming presence and excellent vocal abilities.
You can visit Fabiana Passoni to learn more about the artist, this album and hear song samples.
É Minha Vez (It’s My Turn)
- É Minha Vez (Fabiana Passoni)
- Isso É Hora? (Paulinho Pereira – Rafael Leal)
- Darlin’ (Brian Wilson – Mike Love)
- Escondido (Anna Moreira James)
- Canto de Ossanha (Baden Powell – Vinícius de Moraes)
- Mudar o Mundo (Change the World) (Gordon Kennedy – Wayne Kirkpatrick – Tommy Sims – Portuguese lyrics by Fabiana Passoni – Randolph James)
- Nada Será como Antes (Milton Nascimento – Ronaldo Bastos)
- Tarde em Itapoã (Vinícius de Moraes – Toquinho)
- Serenata (Paulinho Pereira – Rafael Leal)
- Samba do Soho (Paulo Jobim – Ronaldo Bastos)