As long as she could remember, Anna Estrada has always had a dream about flying and that dream finally takes flight with her exceptional debut Sonando Vuelos
(Dreaming Flights), an eclectic blend of primarily Brazilian and Latin jazz music propelling the sound of bossa nova, samba and familiar Latin jazz rhythms to new heights. A few years ago, Estrada, a native of San Francisco and an actress in the Bay Area theatre community, began to pursue her lifelong dream of singing by performing locally and studying at the Madeline Eastman Voice Shop.
"Takes My Breath Away (Ciranda)," the first track on the album, is a lively Brazilian samba-shaded number, and evokes a sense that Estrada has graduated with flying colorshaving passed the test of being a consummate jazz vocalist, albeit a new one. A very talented artist, Estrada voices the lyrics of the songs on this recording in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
With a little help from co-producer and trombonist Wayne Wallace, the musical support here is quite good, boasting a personnel list including pianists Frank Martin and Murray Low, guitarist Ray Scott, percussionist John Santos and saxophonist/flautist Marry Fettig. Saxophonist Robert Kyle plays on his composition "Dreaming Now," but is inadvertently missing from the personnel listing in the liner notes.
The music is simply raw, tender and beautiful, as best exemplified by EstradaÃŠ¼s voicing in Portuguese of the lovely, never recorded Marco Silva song, "Voce Ainde Existe." She proceeds to have some fun with a terrific interpretation of the Brazilian jazz standard "Influencia Do Jazz," with nice support from Scott and Fettig on flute. No repertoire of Brazilian music would be complete without at least one standard from Brazilian master Antonio Carlos Jobim and so Estrada includes "Two Kites," a tune containing lyrics of flying which seems appropriate given the albumÃŠ¼s title.
Turning slightly salsa, Estrada belts out a shoulder-moving Latin jazz rendition of Clifton Davis' popular "Never Can Say Goodbye," complete with heavy percussion, background vocals voiced in Spanish and diced with Fettig' sizzling sax solo. Staying within the salsa vein, she takes Ignacio Pineiro Martinez's well known tropical bolero "Salome" and performs it as a swinging salsa, while again singing in Spanish.
Borrowing a composition from another Brazilian legend, Hermeto Pascoal, the program ends with the soft melody of "Menina Ilza," finalizing one of the best Brazilian/Latin jazz albums released in 2008. With so many jazz vocalists producing music these days, Anna Estrada makes a compelling musical statement with her very first effort assuring that Sonando Vuelos will soar with those who prefer Brazilian and Latin jazz rhythms.
Personnel: Anna Estrada: vocals; Paul Van Wageningen: trap drums; David Belove: bass; Murray Low: piano (2, 3, 5, 7, 9); Frank Martin: piano (1, 4, 6, 8, 10); John Santos: percussion; Michael Spiro: percussion; Ray Scott: guitar (1, 2, 4-6, 8, 10); Wayne Wallace: trombone (3, 7, 9); Mary Fettig: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet, piccolo (5-7, 9, 10); Robert Kyle: tenor saxophone (3); John Worley: trumpet (7, 9); Edgardo Cambon: coro (7, 9); David Chaidez: coro (7, 9).