Celebrate the arrival of Spring with March birthday salutes for Brazil’s musicmakers.
March’s Brazilian music birthdays include legendary names of MPB,
Bossa’s Muse, Brazilian jazzers, a Millennial pop star and… a city.
Rio de Janeiro – March 1, 1565
Happy birthday, Rio! Rio ranks high up on our short list of favorite birthdays and March 1st marks its 456th. The city was officially founded at the foot of the Sugarloaf Mountain in 1565 by Estácio de Sá, a Portuguese knight who named it after Portugal’s King Sebastian I by proclaiming the city as São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (Saint Sebastian of the river of January). São Sebastião doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Rio”, but it resonates with us, begging the question: What do you get a city that has everything?
Nilson Matta – March 1 / The Look of Love
A consummate up-right, classical bassist, Matta had already made a name for himself at a young age in Brazil before making the move to New York in the mid-80s to become a founding member of the legendary Brazilian jazz group, Trio da Paz. These days, Mata leads his own ensemble, Brazilian Voyage to expand his vision of Brazilian jazz in new directions. “I think Brazilian composers influenced many other musical cultures and we have been influenced by these cultures as well. Of course, if you are not Brazilian you will always play our music at some point with an accent – just like we do when we play Jazz”, he told Jazz In Europe recently.
Kleber Jorge – March 1 / Voltar Pro Rio
A constant musical force for Sergio Mendes’ group (which Mendes refers to as his “best band ever”), singer and songwriter Kleber Jorge Pimento has lent his considerable talents to a ‘who’s who’ of Brazilian jazz music, and beyond: from his debut album in 1999, to co-writing ‘Underneath The Face Of The Moon’ with Kevyn Lettau to delivering musical magic for the movies Rio and Rio 2. In addition to touring with Mendes, Kleber is frequently invited to collaborate with many musicians both in America and Brazil. He has recorded and toured with Boney James, Sadao Watanabe, Jane Monheit, Diogo Nogueira, Kevyn Lettau, Chris Bennett, Rita Lee, Fabiana Passoni, Lisa Ono, Leny Andrade and others.
Flora Purim – March 6 / Love Reborn
Our list of March’s Brazilian music birthdays wouldn’t be complete without Flora Purim, and while she may not be a household name for even longtime fans of The Sounds of Brazil, there is no denying her role as a pioneer for contemporary Brazilian jazz when she burst onto the American jazz scene in the early 70s with Chick Corea’s Return To Forever. Indeed, Purim’s emotive voice never found its place in Brazil before that point. But her solo albums and memorable performances with her husband Airto created a special relationship with jazz fans that became the basis for generations of Brazilian musicians to follow.
Danilo Caymmi – March 7 / Nada A Perder
Dorival’s Caymmi clan ls a talented bunch; Daughter Nana and sons Dori and Danilo are beloved in Brazil and worldwide, and each have carved out their own musical niche. For Danilo, this combined his talents as a singer, songwriter, flutist, guitarist and arranger. Born in Rio, he made his first recording at 15. Experience brought Danilo Caymmi to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s attention, joining the New Band in 1983 where his arranging skills were sharpened to shape Jobim’s style. Along the way, Danilo Caymmi also worked for TV Globo as a composer and arranger for various Soap Operas and television dramas. But we love Danilo best when he sings love songs, a style that has made him a radio and concert success story.
Fabiana Passoni – March 8th / Let Your Love Rise
A career in music seemed a natural fit for Fabiana Passoni, a Brazilian American addition for March’s Brazilian music birthdays. After early success singing Sertaneja, Samba and rock, she ran a successful music school. But her love of Bossa Nova and Brazilian jazz soon led her to the U.S. to fulfill her dream of singing on an even bigger stage. In a long and successful musical career, Fabiana Passoni has released several EPs and singles, been a regular in the Top 20 Smooth Jazz charts, including this song, her first-ever song with English lyrics.
Carol Saboya – March 10 / Love Dance
Daughter of pianist Antonio Adolfo, Carol Saboya has maintained a creative focus on Brazil’s ‘Old School’ of MPB, to great and lasting effect. Her talent and dedication has earned her thousands of fans worldwide. As one Amazon reviewer put it, “Saboya is the embodiment of the modern bossa nova singer. She has a lovely, light, expressive voice, and her choice of songs is impeccable.” We could not have said it better ourselves, and we are happy to see her on this list of March’s Brazilian musical birthdays.
Elis Regina – March 17 / Águas de Março
No doubt about it: Elis was the #1 voice of her generation. She gave Ivan Lins his big break by recording his song ‘Madelena’, and Milton Nascimento his claim to early fame with Canção do Sal (Salt Song). In Fact, Elis propelled the careers of many of Brazil’s most famous performers, including João Bosco, Joyce, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and others. So, while music has moved on, Elis Regina is still rightfully considered to be a Brazilian gem… with long coattails.
Kevyn Lettau – March 18 / Another Season
This list of March’s Brazilian music birthdays includes German American Kevyn Lettau, who began her career at about the same time The Sounds of Brazil came into being. We first met her at a storied little club in Chicago called the Jazz Bulls, and it began a friendship that continues to this day. “For me, Brazilian music really is a love affair. Kleber Jorge, a Brazilian singer, songwriter had asked me to write a few lyrics for him and I ended up asking him if I could record some of the tunes because I liked them so much! It was with our tune “Another Season” that I was blessed to have a number one hit on the Pop charts in Japan!”
Eliane Elias – March 19 / Incendiando
Eliane’s personal story begins in Sao Paulo, where she was born in 1960. Her mother played classical piano and also was an avid Brazilian jazz fan with an extensive record collection. This musical atmosphere enabled Eliane Elias to become an accomplished classical pianist at age 12. By the time she was 15, Eliane was attending high school in the mornings, teaching master classes in the afternoons and playing in clubs at night.“My whole thing is the piano, the sound of the piano, the response of the instrument, the acoustics. When I put my hands on it, I don’t have to think about this chord or that chord being right. I just go for what I feel.”
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Jorge Ben Jor- March 22 / Obá, La Vem Ela
Jorge Ben Jor was 21 when he stood Samba on its head, angering Rio’s Velha Guarda with a song they all would probably have liked better a few years later when Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 recorded ‘Mas Que Nada as a Bossa Nova. This – in a nutshell – exemplifies the life of Jorge Ben Jor: Always redefining ideas and boundaries, with good taste and his unique style of writing and performing. That’s something rocker Rod Stewart would come to appreciate when Ben Jor took him to court over the Brazilian’s song ‘Taj Mahal’, which sounded a lot like Stewart’s ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’. Steward called it a coincidence. Jorge Ben Jor called it a Samba, and he won. And maybe even the Old Guard smiled a little.
Zizi Possi – March 28/ A Paz
Brega. That’s an unflattering term from the 80s for the most pop-sounding of Brazilian pop songs, like much of the rest of the worlds’ music from that decade. And fair or not, Zizi Possi was caught up in it, too. But her long string of pop hits brought stardom and legions of fans and together, they evolved. Two albums are standout favorites with listeners of The Sounds of Brazil, our streaming station and music channels: Per Amore, sung in Italian in a classical style with orchestra and Bossa, Zizi Possi’s stunning collection of love songs in Portuguese, English and Spanish. Timeless.
Astrud Gilberto – March 29 / Tristeza – Goodbye Sadness
If ever there was a singer perfectly matched to her times and a musical style, it would have to be Astrud Gilberto. Bossa Nova’s muse was literally in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. She followed up ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ with a string of hits for American fans, then in true enigmatic fashion, retired from music to live a private life, which is what she wanted all along. Then, there’s this: All we remember about Marlena Dietrich today is “I want to be alone,” while Astrud Gilberto has given us a lifetime of music to enjoy whenever we want. Happy birthday, Astrud!
Anitta – March 30 / Will I See You
Could 2021 be Anitta’s year? That’s the buzz. Last year, she hired a new agent in Los Angeles. Five years ago, the New York Times wrote about her musical trajectory two years after our first story. This week, a flurry of stories have declared her a world phenom, ready to put Brazil on the map as the queen of Baile Funk. For those of us who already know where Brazil is, Anitta will need to do better than that. But if anyone can, we’d put our money on Anitta, who’s already one of Brazil’s top money makers, talented and savvy. And she sings in English and Spanish, as well as Portuguese. Somewhere, Ivete Sangalo’s ears are positively burning.
March’s Brazilian Music Birthdays
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