Duduka Da Fonseca: The Guy From Ipanema
Da Fonseca notes the importance of the two seminal American albums that led to the bossa nova craze coming north to the U.S., Jazz Samba (Verve, 1962) by guitarist Charlie Byrd, and Getz/Gilberto (Verve, 1964) by saxophonist Stan Getz with the smoky, sensual vocals by Astrud Gilberto, containing the huge hit, "Girl From Ipanema."
The Getz album "is a beautiful album to this day. It's a great album. It's a perfect mixture of the bossa nova rhythms with jazz improvisation. It was very important to promote and launch bossa nova," he says. "I heard that this classic album, when it was released by Verve, they didn't think it would be very successful. It stayed for a year on the shelves waiting to be released. The somebody, for tax purposes, said, 'Let's release this one.'" It won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Best Jazz Instrumental Album-Individual or Group, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
"Astrud, the singer that sang 'The Girl from Ipanema' ... Stan Getz was the one who had the idea (to use her), because Joao Gilberto didn't speak English. Astrud Gilberto was married to Joao Gilberto. Stan Getz had the idea to call her because she already spoke very good English. But she never sang in her life, professionally. So she went to record and it was a big hit. She never signed any contract, so she never made a dime with that. I know that, because I worked with her for several years in the '80s, so I know a lot of things that went down. But on the other hand, if it wasn't for that, I believe she would never have been as successful as she was. If it wasn't for that recording."
The new Da Fonseca CD presents jazz sambas except for saxophonist Ornette Coleman's "Blues Connotation," which was brought in by Cohen, who does an arrangement of it in her own band, and "The Peacocks," by pianist Jimmy Rowles, whom Da Fonseca met in the 1970s at the famed piano bar Bradley's in New York City (now nonexistent). Others are by his friends, Alfredo Cardim ("O Guarana"), Raul Mascarenhas ("Sabor Carioca") and Dom Salvador ("Depois da Chuva"), Haroldo Mauro Jr. ("Obsinado"), Toninho Horta ("Dona Olympia"), and Rique Pantoia ("Melancia"), as well as one Da Fonseca original ("Flying Over Rio").
"Whenever I can, I record their songs," the drummer says of his amigos. "Because those are songs I used to play when I was back in Brazil; songs that I love to play. I think they should be heard."
The quartet has been together since 2002. Cohen was a student at Berklee College of Music, as was bassist Cioglia, who introduced the young lady from Tel Aviv to Da Fonseca. "We started playing and I loved the way she played. She's so lyrical and plays so beautiful that I had the idea to form a quintet. One of the great things about Anat, she's from Israel, but she went to Brazil many times and she speaks fluent Portuguese. Also, she played with the masters of a kind of music we have in Brazil called choro. It's classic Brazilian music that came before samba. It came in the late 19th century. She is a master. She played with the guys, downtown in Rio, this music. In my opinion, she can play Brazilian music with no accent. She is really something."
Cohen up to her usual high standards on the disk, adding great sound and feeling that blends seamlessly with the samba tapestry woven by these marvelous musicians. Alves, a longtime colleague of Da Fonseca, feels he music like breathing and sparkles. Monteiro's guitar lines are remarkable and Cioglia's bass lines help the drums inject vitality into the compositions. The music is packed with emotion, beauty, excitement, and intensity. The band is so tight it gives the illusion of being effortless. The effort given is as joyous as it is expert, coming through the heart of the leader.
The album was recorded at Avatar Studio in New York City and engineered by the renowned James Farber, a big plus for the project, says Da Fonseca. "It was a pleasure, because when you are in a studio and you have a good sound engineer and a good studio, and you go hear what he did in the booth. You hear that beautiful sound coming out. You don't hear any harsh things coming from the instruments-the guitar, the piano, or piercing cymbals. That encourages you, inspires you, to play better. When you hear a good sound coming out as a reference, it's a big inspiration to make you try to play better. It's not stressful ... Working with people like James, it inspires. So he becomes one of the musicians, because he helped inspire us to play better."