Lightbulb moments can strike at any time. Eclectic virtuosic clarinetist Kristen Mather de Andrade had reached a career milestone in being years into a full-time prestigious position with the West Point Band when she had a seismic artistic epiphany. After playing a program of Brazilian music on a livestream, she decided it was time to record her full-length debut album, aptly-titled Clarão which translates from Portuguese to mean “flash of light.”
The New York-based artist’s career has been defined by immersing herself in a broad array of musical worlds and cultures, from the classical canon to world music, and beyond. The music traditions explored on Clarão, however, hold a special place in her heart as her husband is from Brazil, and previously she had been a lifelong admirer of the country’s musical exports. Clarão is a treat for Brazilian music aficionados and casual music fans who desire a sonic experience that whisks you away to a sweetly tropical escape. The album features an exhilarating melding of American big band traditions with authentic Brazilian rhythms. Its repertoire of songs pays homage to unsung Brazilian composers such as Severino Araújo, Roque Ferreira, and Rubens Leal Brito, among others. The album boasts the production, arrangement smarts, and masterful pandeiro playing of Sergio Krakowski.
Kristen’s breezy vocals and her soulfully dexterous clarinet playing are a joy throughout Clarão. On “Côco tara ta ta,” a track written by the hidden gem of a composer Severino Araújo, sinewy Brazilian grooves mesh majestically with a big band instrumental topline. Kristen’s sensually expressive vocals shine on her breezy rendition of Northeast Brazilian singer-composer’s Roque Ferreira “Guelê Guelê.” The song’s evocative lyrics are poetically reflected in the track’s imaginative arrangement which mirrors the vastness of the sea by having no hard and fast beginning or ending. On the slinky instrumental, “Chorinho para ele,” Kristen’s virtuosic classical musicality is in full bloom.