Yolanda Soares – Royal Fado (Compaes Records, 2016)
Eclectic classically-trained Portuguese vocalist Yolanda Soares draws her inspiration from fado, although she doesn’t describe herself as a fado singer. On Royal Fado she showcases her gifted voice accompanied by Portuguese guitar and Welsh harp. In addition, Yolanda Soares incorporates flamenco, tango and Middle Eastern influences. This unconventional, innovative fusion works out very well.
The Welsh connection comes from the album’s producer Chris Marshall who brought in acclaimed harp player Claire Jones; baritone singer Rhydian Roberts; Portuguese guitar maestro Custódio Castelo and traditional choral group A Moda Mae from Alentejo.
On Royal Fado, Yolanda Soares brings passion and a new imagination of fado.
One of the most exciting new fado vocalists, Gisela João will make her New York City debut at the Schimmel Center at Pace University on Saturday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the first NY Fado Festival.
Gisela João’s self-titled debut CD (released in 2013), brought enthusiastic praise from the Portuguese and European press. Within two weeks of release it went straight to the top of the Portuguese charts. Her following live appearances decisively established her as a unique and uncompromising voice. While other singers communicate the fado’s strong sentiments exclusively through their voices, Gisela João’s fado is a full-body experience. Onstage, she jumps, she gestures, and she emotes.
Offstage, her interviews are equally wide-ranging and unrestrained. She moves swiftly from discussing fado to house music to Nick Cave and Nina Simone, affirming confidently that “all genres of music end up influencing all others because music thrives upon life itself.”
Gisela João was born in 1983, in the northern Portuguese city of Barcelos, rather than in Lisbon, the cradle of fado. Her career began when she procured her first contract by sending a portfolio of videos to Portugal’s major labels, signing soon after with the Valentim de Carvalho label (the most reputable fado label).
Both Gisela João and Nua were recorded not in sterile studios, but in Old World palaces located in and around Lisbon, the equipment trucked in and the interiors left untouched. Her video catalog contains a daring, even radical visual style, expressed possibly most powerfully in the video for “Labirinto ou não foi nada,” featuring not Gisela João but a transvestite artist in scenes of backstage and subterranean intrigue.
With the release of her second album Nua (Naked) she has jumped deeply into the most sacred territory of the fado canon—the repertory of the late Amália Rodrigues, undoubtedly the genre’s foremost exponent. In so doing, she stands an excellent chance of helping to redefine contemporary notions of the fado.
Gisela João also performs contemporary songs on Nua, such as “Noite de São João” (Night of Saint John), with lyrics written for the album by the female rapper Capicua. I’s the recount a tale of late-night romance with a very bad boy. João dismisses any criticism that this lyric is somehow beneath the fado. She stresses that fado was once a music of people living at the margins of society: scoundrels, ne’er-do-wells, seafarers. As she says, “I like traditional fado, pure and raw.”
Gisela João will be accompanied by Ricardo Parreira on the 12-string Portuguese guitar, Nelson Aleixo on the classical guitar, and Francisco Gaspar on the acoustic bass guitar. A pre-show talk on fado and a special exhibit from the Museu do Fado in Lisbon are included in the February 25th program.
Schimmel Center at Pace University Presents: Gisela João (NY Debut)
The Schimmel Center
Saturday February 25, 2017
3 Spruce Street, Manhattan
6:00 pm: Pre-Show Conversation with Fado Scholar Lila Ellen Gray
7:30 pm: Acoustic Trio (Portuguese guitar, classical guitar, acoustic bass)
8:00 pm: Gisela João
Tickets $29, $39 schimmelcenter.org/event/new-york-fado-festival
A fado exhibit from Museu do Fado in Lisbon will be on display in the Schimmel Center lobby
Portugal’s fado sensation António Zambujo has been a major voice in recent years in the resurrection of male fado singers in a genre dominated by females. Renowned for his earthy and atmospheric songs, he speaks of the pain of separation, unanswered love, and longing — themes portrayed in this poetic, deeply expressive genre. Winner of the Amália Rodrigues Foundation prize for ‘Best Fado Male Singer,’ Zambujo merges traditional fado with cante alentejano (male chant form from southern Portugal with North African influences) and Brazilian popular music.
António Zambujo, born in Beja, Alentejo in southern Portugal in 1975, grew up listening to cante alentejano – a traditional male chant that has become a strong influence in his music.
As a child, Zambujo studied clarinet, but soon became entranced with fado. He won a regional fado contest at the age of 16, and then began his professional career when Mário Pacheco, the renowned Portuguese guitarist and composer, invited him to sing in his Club de Fado in Lisbon. Soon afterwards, Zambujo was chosen to take the role of Francisco da Cruz, Amália Rodrigues’s first husband, in the successful musical Amália directed by Filipe La Féria, one of Portugal’s leading stage directors; Zambujo performed in the musical for four years in Lisbon and then toured with it in Portugal, achieving enormous success.
After recording his first album O mesmo fado in 2002, Zambujo won the prestigious ‘Radio Nova FM’ prize for the ‘Best New Fado Voice’ – an award previously received by Mariza, Camané and Mafalda Arnauth. Since then he has recorded several more albums.
In recent years Zambujo has collaborated with the Bulgarian women’s choir Angelite and top Portuguese pop and jazz singers, expanding the horizons of traditional fado while remaining committed to its roots.
Acclaimed fado artist António Zambujo is set to perform on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at Union Chapel in London. Stranger Stranger will be the supporting act.
António Zambujo is fado vocalist and Portuguese guitar player. He was raised listening to Cante Alentejano, a regional genre that inspired him while growing up in Beja, Portugal. At the age of eight he studied clarinet at the Baixo Alentejo Regional Conservatory. At that time, Zambujo becae fascinated with fado. He was shaped by Amália Rodrigues, Maria Teresa de Noronha, Alfredo Marceneiro, João Ferreira Rosa, Max and others. He regularly sang for his family and friends and won a local fado contest at the age of 16.
After completing his clarinet studies, Zambujo moved to Lisbon. Mário Pacheco, the renowned Portuguese guitar player and composer, straightway added him to his company at the prestigious Clube do Fado in the Alfama neighborhood.
Zambujo won the prestigious Amália Rodrigues Foundation award as best male fado singer in 2006. He has toured comprehensively in Europe and South America, including several sold-out concerts in Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
Mariza – Mundo (Warner Music Portugal/Nonesuch, 2016)
Released earlier in the year in Europe, Mariza’s new album Mundo is now available in North America. The acclaimed fado singer became a world music sensation thanks to showcases at WOMEX, performamces at world music festivals and other presentations. Now she’s taken a further step with her collaboration with Spanish producer Javier Limón.
Mundo still contains exquisite fado. In fact, most of the album is still fado plus a Cape Verdean morna. But there is more. Grammy award-winning producer Javier Limón is well-known for making music accessible to large audiences. Limón composed a song titled “Alma” for Mariza. Here, Mariza sings in Spanish. Her Spanish is charming, with an Andalusian flavor.
Although most of the album is in Portuguese, there is another track in Spanish, a 1930’s Argentine tango song. Thanks to “Alma” and a handful of other pop songs that are very radio friendly, Mariza has now reached beyond the fado and world music audiences. She currently has access to Portuguese and Spanish-language mainstream audiences, which will boost her international career. Nevertheless, fado fans shouldn’t worry. As indicated earlier, most of the album still contains splendid classic and modern fado songs featuring Mariza’s passionate vocals and Portuguese guitar.
Mariza is currently touring North America to present her new work.
Acclaimed Portuguese vocalist Mariza is set to perform Saturday, October 15, 2016 at The Town Hall in New York City.
The fado singer will be presenting her new album Mundo (World) that features classic songs honoring the late fado legend Amalia Rodrigues and legendary tango singer Carlos Gardel, as well as new songs written for her by the Grammy-winning Spanish producer Javier Limón. On Mundo, Mariza sings in Portuguese and Spanish.
One the highlights of the Ibero American Music Expo (EXIB) 2016 was the concert by Portuguese musician, composer and singer-songwriter artist Luiz Caracol. We got a copy of his 2013 album Devagar that contains a lot of the material he performed live.
Luiz Caracol grew up in Lisbon, the son of parents who moved from Angola. His music reflects the melting pot of Lisbon with a mix of Portuguese, lusophone African and South American styles and jazz.
Most of Caracol’s songs begin with guitar and vocals and then he adds the additional instruments provided by his band. He sings seductive songs in the form of Brazilian samba, reassembled fado or featuring world music elements from other traditions of the globe. He also adapts a Spanish-language song by the great Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler to Portuguese.
In addition to his regular band, Luiz Caracol invited high profile guests to collaborate in Devagar, including Afro-Portuguese singer Sara Tavares and Brazilian vocalist Fernanda Abreu.
The album lineup includes Luiz Caracol on guitar, bass, cavaquinho, guitalele, vibraphone, percussion and vocals; Miroca Paris on percussion; Ivo costa on drums and tarola; Hernani Almeida on guitars; Renato Junior on Rhodes; Patricia Antunes on vocals; João Balão on kalimba, bombos and percussion; Carlos Lopes on accordion; Ruca Rebordão on percussion
Guests: Sara Tavares on guitar and vocals; Fernanda Abreu on vocals and beat box; and Valete on vocals.
Devagar delivers timelessly crafted songs with toe-tapping rhythms from Africa and Brazil.
Waldemar Bastos is one of the best known artists from Angola. He’s been living in Portugal for the last years, working with musicians from various backgrounds. His style is characterized by warm laid back sounds, sung in Portuguese, combined with powerful Congolese-style guitars.
”My music arises out of paradox,” says Waldemar Bastos . ”I am a professional musician who barely studied music, an African performer whose first album was recorded in South America, an artist from a war-torn country whose principal themes are peace and optimism, a singer/songwriter who is considered to be the voice of Angola, although I presently live in Portugal.”
Waldemar Bastos was born in Angola, on the border with Congo, in 1954. ‘Five centuries of colonization meant that when I was growing up I heard songs from many different cultures,” he explains. In addition to the African sounds he absorbed, he heard Brazilian music and cites the Beatles, Nat King Cole, the Bee Gees and Carlos Santana as early influences.
Bastos grew up in a country wrecked by war. First, a war of liberation, which began in the early 1960’s and ended in 1974 with the overthrow of the Portuguese dictator Salazar, and then a civil war that lasted for many years. Although both sides in the civil war tried to claim his music as their own, he refused to be drawn into partisan politics, instead offering a message emphasizing the value of all life, the beauty of the world, and the need for hope.
Nevertheless, the political climate in the newly independent country was not supportive of artists. The communist government was even more repressive than the colonial government it had replaced, and Bastos came to feel that he was in potential danger. In 1982 he defected from a cultural delegation visiting Portugal. For a time he lived in Brazil and later in Paris, and he now makes his home in Portugal.
After Angola became independent, Bastos began to write his own songs, in which African guitar-pop is laced with Brazilian and Portuguese influences. He recorded his first album, Estamos Juntos (We’re Together), in Brazil and two more, Angola Minha Namorada (My Sweetheart Angola) and Pitanga Madura (Ripe Pitanga Berry), after his return to Portugal.
Pretaluz (Blacklight) was recorded in the United States and released by Luaka bop. Pretaluz features Angolan and Portuguese musicians.
In April of 2003, Bastos went back to Angola for the first time in many years to perform in the national stadium in Luanda, the capital, in celebration of the ending of years of civil war. Since then he returned half a dozen times more, ensuring that the spirit of his African roots remained a powerful influence on his music.
His 2012 album Classics of My Soul features Derek Nakamoto on keyboards, Mitchell Long on guitars and The London Symphony Orchestra.
The message that Bastos brings to his audiences merges the suffering of his people and a longing for home with optimism and the power of love.
Acetre is one of the most experienced groups in the Extremadura (western Spain) contemporary folk music scene. Acetre was formed in 1976 and has gone through different stages. In recent years the ensemble has developed a creative musical work focused on two fronts: the reworking of traditional music and composing new songs and pieces in which there is always an ethnic element.
Group members carry out careful research and selection of old songs and tunes that they collect from the rich ‘extremeña’ oral tradition, enriching them with new arrangements.
Acetre is based in the Spanish border city of Olivenza in Badajoz, which links band members historically and geographically to Portugal. That’s why their concerts feature traditional styles from Extremadura such as perantones, rondas, tonadas festivas, pindongos or alboradas extremeñas along with Portuguese verdegaios, fado, corridillos, etc., which provide a virtual bridge between Extremadura and the Portuguese tradition.
In 2000 Acetre composed the music for the soundtrack of the animated film Marina, la princesa del fondo del mar (Marina, Princess of the Seabed). Other soundtracks followed after that.
In 2016, Acetre celebrated its 40th anniversary with a series of special concerts.
Extremadura en la frontera (1999)
De malteseria (1994)
Canto de gamusinos (1999)
Barrunto (2003) Dehesario (2007) Arquitecturas Rayanas (Nuba Records/Karonte 2011)
Edipo Rey, soundtrack (2015)
The Iberoamerican Music Expo 2016 turned out to be a great opportunity to catch up with Portuguese music and some of the album releases from neighboring Spain and Latin America.
The EXIB trade show area was smaller than WOMEX, but there was a pretty good representation of booking agencies, festivals, institutions and record labels/producers.
One of the most fascinating exhibitors was Tradisom Producoes Culturais. This record company puts together fabulous boxed sets, books with CD, hard cover CDs, and regular CDs focusing on traditional and contemporary Portuguese folk music. Some of the goodies exhibited included a mammoth hard cover 552-page book accompanied by 4 CDs titled A Origem fo Fado (the origin of fado).
Tradisom also had a boxed set with the entre discography by one of the greatest Portuguese folk bands in the late 20th century, Brigada Victor Jara. There were also fado boxed sets, a Julio Pereira (cavaquinho master) hard cover book+CD and much more. This label is a goldmine for Portuguese music.
Several of the exhibitors represented some of the artists that showcased throughout EXIB 2016. I managed to get a pretty decent amount of CDs and memory sticks with press kits so we will be reviewing some of this material in the next weeks.
In this era of digital everything, it was great to see a new print magazine made in London. La Tundra is a free Spanish language culture and arts magazine published and designed by Silvia Demetilla. The magazine features CD and book reviews, the theater scene, urban radar (reviews of recommended places in London neighborhoods), urban spaces, travel articles, interviews and environmental consciousness reports.
Iberoamerica Musical is the umbrella organization that supports EXIB. The organization runs several other initiatives such as the upcoming Revista Digital Pura Mestiza, a quarterly magazine targeting Ibero-American music industry professionals.
Three influential music journalists, Gabriel Plaza (Argentina), Enrique Blanc (Mexico), and Humphrey Inzillo (Argentina) gave a presentation about the network of Ibero-American music journalists.
Inzillo, Plaza and Blanc also introduced some of the most interesting sounds coming from Latin America, like various forms of cumbia, including electronic cumbia produced by companies like tropical futurism label ZZK Records; the new tango scene in Argentina, featuring new tango orchestras and bands with a new attitude such as Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro, El Arranque, Buenos Aires Negro, Melingo and La Chicana.
Enrique Blanc explained that Mexico has four main music production areas: Mexico City, Tijuana, Monterrey and Guadalajara. Mexico City is a huge city that produces all music genres; Tijuana has an interesting electronic scene and is heavily influenced by its northern neighbor, the USA; Monterrey (near Laredo and Brownsville in Texas) focuses on conjunto and norteño sounds.
Guadalajara, meanwhile, is considered the cultural capital of Mexico. Enrique introduced Guadalajara acts like indie rock band Porter, showcasing their video Huitzil; and Hoppo! a new band featuring Chilean and Mexican artists, including Café Tacvba vocalist Rubén Albarrán.
Festival programmers met for the 2nd Encounter of Ibero-American Music Festivals. The first session was a networking and strategizing section open to festivals only. The second part was open to artist managers and agents as well as musicians.
Brazilian wind instrument virtuoso Carlos Malta gave a masterclass and conference at Evora University, and then there were numerous micro-conferences presenting books, events, new media platforms, music guides and more within the EXIB trade show space. Lastly, the expo featured an Ibero-American music documentary series.
My impression this year is that EXIB has grown. Naturally, this year the Portuguese presence was much larger, which made the event very attractive for those unfamiliar with the Portuguese music scene. I also saw some media colleagues from beyond Ibero America: musician and writer Andrew Cronshaw (UK), Simon Broughton of Songlines magazine (UK) and Drago Vovk from Radio Sraka in Slovenia.
Plans for EXIB 2017 have not been finalized yet, but it looks like Cordoba in Spain might be the next location for this unique music expo.