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My Very Life, by Paulinho Garcia, is a release from Chicago Sessionsa subscription label service "featuring the best Chicago jazz artists." Many years ago Garcia realized that it pays to be a toucan in a land of penguins and he has been leaving his mark in the Windy Cityand beyondever since.
This recording finds Garcia under a somewhat different spotlight. For example, although his recent solo work and his recordings with Two for Brazil do not feature much of his own material, here Garcia shows that he can write in a trilingual mode as well as he can sing and play. Two other welcome differences from his recent productions are the fact that he's finely supported by a larger and richer ensemble and that the material is thoroughly Brazilianexcept for "Adios Sueño"staying clear from the jazz canon.
The date has many fine moments. All aspects of the compositions are just right. The songs touch on various themes and have beautiful lyrics, different textures, tempos and moods, and the arrangements enhance the harmonic and melodic lines. The music achieves this with the typical enchanting simplicity that characterizes both Garcia's work and Brazilian music in general. The supporting cast does very well. Highlights include the haunting arched bass lines at the end of "Chorinho Novo," the tasty restrain of the percussionists, the understated presence of Grazyna Auguscik on vocals and the complementary edgy roughness of the electric guitars in "Chorinho Novo" and "Disfrutando a Boa Vida."
However, for some reason in "Chorinho da Paulinho," unlike in "Chorinho da Paula," the mandolin was undermixed and Don Stiernberg's work in "Chorinho Novo" suffered a similar fate. It's no reason for dismissing those tunes outright, or the recording as a whole, but a better mix would have brought the work to a different level. Also, Steve Eisen is credited as flutist on "Ponto de Encontro" but he's only playing excellent sax therein and there's an uncredited flute performance on "Adiós Sueño" worthy of note.
Neil Tesser's reference in the liner notes to the rhythmic affinity of "Ponto de Encontro" to Ravel's "Bolero" is mistaken. The underlying rhythm of the song in question is that of the Cuban bolero and not Ravel's, nor the Spanish one. Other than the name, they are unrelated.
Track Listing: Cintura Fina; Ponto de Encontro; Chorinho Novo; I'll Be Calling for Maria (No Matter What); Do You Remember Me?; Chorinho da Paula; E Quando...; Adiós mi sueño; Chorinho do Paulinho; My Very Life; Disfrutando a Boa Vida.
Personnel: Paulinho Garcia: voice, acoustic guitar; Heitor Garcia: percussion; Don Stiernberg: mandolin; Ernie Denov: electric guitar (11); Steve Eisen: flute (2), sax; Brett Benteler: upright and electric bass; Geraldo de Oliveira: percussion; Michael Allemana: electric guitar (3); Julie Koidin: flute (9); Grazyna Auguscik: voice.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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