Ivan Lins is one of the most treasured and recorded Brazilian composers in the world and a melodist with few equals. The winner of four Latin Grammy Awards, Lins has recorded nearly fifty albums since 1970; they contain countless songs, notably “Madalena” and “Começar de Novo” (To Begin Again), that have become standards in his country. “Love Dance,” cowritten with his longtime arranger, Gilson Peranzzetta, and lyricist Paul Williams, is Lins’s English-language classic. Its performers include Sarah Vaughan
, Peggy Lee
, Mark Murphy
, Shirley Horn
, Blossom Dearie
, Carmen McRae
, George Benson
, Nancy Wilson
, Barbra Streisand
, and Quincy Jones
, who helped maneuver Lins’s U.S. breakthrough in the early ‘80s.
On September 15, 2023 Resonance Records—the award-winning diamond of independent jazz labels—will release My Heart Speaks
, the most extravagantly lush album of Lins’s career. Performing rare gems from his catalog, the composer is backed by the 91-piece symphony of Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia. Kuno Schmid, the extraordinarily prolific Los Angeles-based composer and arranger, wrote the orchestral charts. One of Schmid’s fans was his legendary predecessor, Johnny Mandel, who earned one of his five Grammys for an arrangement of Lins’s “Velas,” featured on Jones’s album The Dude
. Mandel called Schmid’s work “so good that I’m jealous.”My Heart Speaks
holds a feast of discoveries for Lins’s American fans. It also boasts appearances by Randy Brecker
, Dianne Reeves
, Jane Monheit
, and an exciting newcomer, Tawanda, winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. The liner notes, containing extensive commentary by Lins, were written by James Gavin, the acclaimed biographer of George Michael, Peggy Lee, Chet Baker
, and Lena Horne
and a two-time winner of ASCAP’s Deems Taylor-Virgil Thomson Award for excellence in music journalism.
Lins’s reedy, impassioned voice is one of the iconic sounds of Brazilian pop, and in My Heart Speaks
he gives intense performances of songs he hand-picked. The sumptuous ballad “Renata Maria,” about a dreamlike goddess who appears on a beach and drives a man crazy, is one of Lins’s two collaborations with a fellow Brazilian legend, songwriter Chico Buarque. “Corpos” (Bodies) dates from the darkest years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, when political dissenters were disappearing. Lins wrote it with his foremost collaborator, Vitor Martins, one of Brazil’s most profound lyric writers.
Jane Monheit, a frequent interpreter of Lins’s songs and a gifted and evolving lyricist, wrote two of the English adaptations heard here. “The Heart Speaks” was first recorded instrumentally by trumpeter Terence Blanchard
on his 1995 album of Lins’s songs; Monheit’s lyric is introduced here by five-time Grammy-winner Dianne Reeves. Monheit sings “Rio,” a valentine to the city where Lins spends half the year (he also has a home in Lisbon). Tawanda performs “I’m Not Alone,” an English version of Lins’s classic “Anjo de Mim.” Its lyricist, Will Jennings, has written two Oscar-winning No. 1 hits, “Up Where We Belong” and “My Heart Will Go On.”
Lins’s core band on this album spans several countries. Josh Nelson is a Los Angeles-based pianist whose work was called “lyrical, harmonically rich, and elegant” in DownBeat. Uruguayan guitarist Leo Amuedo has been a fixture of Lins’s groups for over a decade. Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto founded the Grammy-winning Latin band Irakere.My Heart Speaks
was a dream of Resonance founder George Klabin. It follows Night Kisses
, a 2020 Resonance album of Lins tunes played by clarinetist Eddie Daniels and a string quartet.
From the time Klabin founded the label in 2008, Resonance has earned consistent acclaim both for its gold-standard issues of newly discovered material by such legends as Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Freddie Hubbard, and Stan Getz, and for its new recordings by Claudio Roditi, Toninho Horta, Christian Howes, and others. Resonance’s albums have so far earned two Grammys and four nominations.
Now comes a release that, for Klabin, may be the label’s pinnacle. “In my opinion,” he says, Lins “is as great a composer of Brazilian music as Tom Jobim. The journey of creation of this masterpiece will remain with me as the most spiritual and loving experience I have had in the field of music production.”
About Ivan Lins
It was in 1970 that Ivan Lins, a middle-class youth with a degree in chemical engineering, made a life-changing transition into music. One of his fledgling efforts as a songwriter, Lins’s “O Amor É o Meu Pais” (Love Is My Country), placed second in the fifth edition of the prestigious International Festival of Song competition in Rio. Within the same period, Brazil’s greatest young singer, Elis Regina, gave him his first hit when she recorded his song “Madalena.” In 1972, Lins was driving in Rio when he heard a heart-stopping sound coming from his car radio: It was Ella Fitzgerald singing “Madalena.”
Today Lins stands as one of the world’s most admired and recorded Brazilian composers after Antonio Carlos Jobim. His song “Love Dance,” coauthored by his longtime arranger Gilson Peranzzetta and lyricist Paul Williams, has been recorded by dozens of American stars, among them Sarah Vaughan, Barbra Streisand, George Benson, and Lins’s first American champion, Quincy Jones. The U.S. jazz community has embraced him as one of its own.
Born on June 16, 1945 in Ituverava, a city in São Paulo state, Ivan Guimarães Lins was the son of a naval engineer. As a child he lived for a time in Boston, where his father was studying. Both the U.S. and Brazil figured heavily in his musical development. Lins’s family was living in Rio when bossa nova exploded; enraptured by the art of the bossa trio, Lins taught himself piano. By the age of twenty he was leading a trio in a nightclub.
His remarkable gift for creating sophisticated melody and harmony emerged through a close study of two of bossa’s founders, Carlos Lyra and Jobim. Henry Mancini, whom he calls “one of my heroes,” and other American songwriters left strong marks on him as well. Then Lins discovered samba, and the rhythmic side of his composing took wing.
He went on to obtain an engineering degree, but did nothing with it; he preferred to play and sing his own songs in bars. In 1970 he released his first singles. A Brazilian singer named Eva recorded one of his earliest tunes, “Agora” (Now); it became a modest hit. But when Elis Regina adopted “Madalena” (with words by Lins’s first steady lyricist, Ronaldo Monteiro de Souza), the Brazilian music world at large began to pay attention to him.
Like other songwriters of his generation, Lins vehemently opposed the military dictatorship that had taken over Brazil in 1964. By the late ‘60s, every artist was subject to fierce censorship. Politically minded lyricists had to learn to convey political messages in encoded, metaphorical language.
That issue helped define Lins’s partnership with Vitor Martins, a profoundly poetic and oftentimes political lyric writer. Starting with their first collaboration, “Abre Alas” (Open Your Arms), in 1974, Lins and Martins created a body of work that helped define that turbulent decade in Brazilian life. Many of the songs, including “Aos Nossos Filhos” (To Our Children) and “Corpos” (Bodies), had political themes; others—“Bilhete” (Ticket), “Antes Que Seja Tarde” (Before It’s Too Late), “Lembra de Mim” (Remember Me), “Velas Içadas” (Hoisted Sails)—dealt with embattled life and love.
In that period, Lins recorded a string of important albums on EMI and Philips; Elis Regina and nearly every other significant Brazilian singer sang his work. But when he met Quincy Jones in 1980, his career took an international leap. “He was really the person who opened doors for me here,” Lins told the Boston Globe.
Jones did much to popularize Lins in the U.S., notably by facilitating the writing of English words for his songs. Alan & Marilyn Bergman transformed a Lins classic, Começar de Novo" (To Begin Again), into the torrid “The Island”; Sarah Vaughan gave it one of the first of its many recordings. Mark Murphy released an entire Lins collection, Night Mood
; trumpeter Terence Blanchard did the same with The Heart Speaks
. In 2000, Telarc issued A Love Affair: The Music of Ivan Lins
, featuring Sting, Vanessa Williams, Chaka Khan, Brenda Russell, and Lisa Fischer. That October, Khan, Russell, Williams, and others joined the composer for a Carnegie Hall concert. Lins became an in-demand guest on albums by American artists, including Michael Bublé, Paula Cole, and Jane Monheit.
All the while he toured the world, headlining frequently at jazz festivals and clubs while making his own albums for GRP, Philips, and Reprise. The 2000s brought Lins to an even higher level of acclaim; he earned four Latin Grammy Awards, two for his album Cantando Histórias (Singing Stories) and one each for Ivan Lins and the Metropole Orchestra and América, Brasil.
Today, Lins—who divides his time between Rio de Janeiro and Lisbon—is touring as busily as ever. His recent association with Resonance Records, the celebrated, Los Angeles- based boutique jazz label, has yielded two albums. In Night Kisses: A Tribute to Ivan Lins
, clarinetist Eddie Daniels and a string quartet play the composer’s earlier works. And in the forthcoming (September) Resonance album My Heart Speaks
, Lins performs rarities from his catalog in the company of the 91-piece symphony orchestra of Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia.
About Resonance Records
Resonance Records is a multi-GRAMMY Award-winning label that prides itself in creating beautifully designed, informative packaging to accompany previously unreleased recordings by the jazz icons who grace Resonance's catalog including Bill Evans, Nat King" Cole, Wes Montgomery, Sarah Vaughan and countless others. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Resonance Records is a division of Rising Jazz Stars, Inc. a California 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation created to discover the next jazz stars and advance the cause of jazz. Current Resonance Artists include Tawanda and Eddie Daniels. For more information, visit the label at www.ResonanceRecords.org.