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Rosa Passos: Brazilian Guitarist, Composer, Vocalist

Nick Catalano By

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It has been forty years since the extraordinary samba jazz of Brazil was first introduced to mass audiences in the United States. Great composer/instrumentalists like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, and Milton Nascimento have given way to another generation of spectacular talents like Ivan Lins, Dori Caymmi, Ary Barroso and Elis Regina. Leading American performers from Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to Stan Getz and Sarah Vaughan have carried the legacy of this legendary aesthetic achievement to audiences everywhere. Despite all of this, most Americans are almost unaware of the musical richness that continues to flow from Brazil.

The latest contribution comes from a native of Salvador, Brazil who is, just now, being introduced to our audiences. Her name is Rosa Passos and she has been compared to such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, and Nancy Wilson. Passos is a guitarist/composer/vocalists and, this past August, she garnered sensational reviews in a widely publicized concert at the Hollywood Bowl presented by Yo-Yo Ma. Last winter she arrived in Gotham to record a CD with Ron Carter and it has just been released on the Chesky label. "Entre Amigos is one of those sessions that could well be immortalized as those starring Jobim and Astrud Gilberto forty years ago. "Entre Amigos contains much of the same music as the Jobim recordings but the arrangements and vocals of Rosa Passos succeed in creating new energy yet preserving the subtlety, mystery and romance of the Brazilian miracle.

As the New York fall jazz season steams up it is important to take note of important happenings. This weekend pianist Phil Markowitz makes a rare appearance, performing at the Knickerbocker bar and grill with bassist Jay Anderson October 2-4. The Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts are now in full swing with a celebration of the music of Dexter Gordon featuring The George Cables Trio. The performances are also October 2-4 and are held at the Stanley Kaplan Playhouse. On October 29 the sensational John Pizzarelli Trio returns to Birdland for a three-night stand. Audiences have thrilled to big band night at Birdland in recent years and some of the orchestra sidemen are now beginning their own careers as leaders. David Bixler, an altoist with both the Chico O'Farrill and Toshiko Akiyoshi orchestras has just released a breakout CD "Show Me the Justice that features new faces like Scott Wendholt on trumpet, John Hart on guitar, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Andy Watson on drums. It is a winner.


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