Five years before the release of Bossa Nova Day (2009), Orlando Haddad and Patricia King had started a major scale collaboration with maestro Bill Zaccagni to produce an album for their group Minas. The plan was to use their own compositions along with others from the Brazilian songbook. Unfortunately, Bill Zaccagni passed away in 2007. Nevertheless, the majestic symphonic work with big band and string arrangements he created are vividly recorded in Minas latest release, appropriately titled Symphony in Bossa. Produced by Orlando and Patricia, the album brings Minas together with the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, conducted by Terell Stafford. It has been a while an album has moved me so much as Symphony in Bossa did.
Behind Minas, there is an array of competent and dedicated musicians and guest artists making the extraordinary music we hear in Symphony in Bossa. Working with Orlando Haddad (guitar and vocals) and Patricia King (piano and vocals), we find familiar names such as Adriano Giffoni (bass), Giló and Zé Maurício (percussion), David Finck (acoustic bass) along with a 15-piece big band, 12-piece string orchestra and an 8-piece vocal ensemble. Everything is carefully blended with magnificent sound results. The album is lush and rapturous. With solid arrangements, even the most well known songs get a new performance that is true to the original and yet very appealing and pleasing even to the most demanding listeners.
“Sinal Verde” opens the album. First recorded in their 2006 In Rio release, this up-tempo arrangement cleverly gives the listener the idea of what happens in traffic when the light turns green. You will certainly find yourself driving a fast sports car through the streets in Copacabana or Leblon or the city of your pleasure. Orlando’s guitar solo is smooth like a gentle breeze, and throughout the piece, we also hear spirited solos by Patricia King on piano and Terell Stafford on flugelhorn. This instrumental number takes advantage of the big band sound with lively brass supported by Adriano Giffoni‘s inimitable bass. The great vocal work in “Triste” is another memorable highlight on the CD. The sound echoes the beautiful harmonies we used to hear in Jobim‘s own arrangements.
The second original composition in Symphony in Bossa comes with Patricia King’s stunningly beautiful “Only the Moon and the Stars.” This gorgeous ballad was first recorded in the 1996 CD BlueAzul. Like every classic, this is a timeless piece that never loses its beauty. If you have never heard Patricia’s voice before, you have been impoverished of one of the most drop-dead timbres and phrasing on the planet. “Only the Moon and the Stars” starts with John Swana’s flugelhorn solo. That and Patricia’s voice immediately transport you to the golden Hollywood era of movies. The feeling created here is smoky, romantic and alluring. These opening verses define what unfolds:
Watching the waves and the tide
Is there something in the moon
Or the stars that decide
How our love will unfold
The melody, solos and vocals hold your attention to help you find out what “only the moon and the stars … seem to know.”
Orlando’s guitar solos always deliver no matter what genre or style he plays. He makes it sound very effortless even though these are complex solos and arrangements. In his own “Amazonia,” for example, we are presented with a rondo format featuring funk, baião and samba. Fascinating work we have from all performers in this track, including Tony Salicandro’s flute and Rob Hyman’s melodica solos.
The album closes with a medley of some of the most well known pieces in the Brazilian repertoire, including songs from the movie Black Orpheus. The flute improvisation by Tony Salicandro right before Orlando’s guitar rendition of “Manhã de Carnaval” is idyllic. And then we hear Patricia’s radiant singing those lyrics! It cannot get any better than that.
Symphony in Bossa takes Brazilian classics to a new height. Minas gives listeners a new take at these classics. The results are memorably rewarding. It would not come to me as a surprise if the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences gives a well deserving nod to this remarkable release. It is unequivocally on top of my personal list as the best album of 2015!
Here is a previous recording of “Only the Moon and the Stars.” Incidentally, the black and white video is spot-on!
Symphony in Bossa
BlueAzul SIB2015 (2015)
- Sinal Verde (Orlando Haddad)
- The Girl from Ipanema (Antônio Carlos Jobim – Vinícius de Moraes – Normal Gimbel)
- Triste (Antônio Carlos Jobim)
- Only the Moon and the Stars (Patricia King)
- Águas de Março(Antônio Carlos Jobim)
- Amazonia (Brazilian Rondo) (Orlando Haddad)
- Quiet Nights (Corcovado) (Antônio Carlos Jobim – Gene Lees)
- Chega de Saudade (Antônio Carlos Jobim – Vinícius de Moraes)
- Strings Interlude/Flute Prelude (Tony Salicandro – flute improvisation)
- Manhã de Carnaval (Luiz Bonfá – Antônio Maria)
- Desafinado (Slightly Out of Tune) (Antônio Carlos Jobim – Newton Mendonça – Jon Hendricks – Jessie Cavanaugh)
- Samba de Orfeu (Luiz Bonfá – Antônio Maria)