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Mafalda Minnozzi 'Sensorial - Portraits In Bossa & Jazz' Out Now

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Mafalda Minnozzi 'Sensorial - Portraits In Bossa & Jazz' Out Now

The always expressive vocalist Mafalda Minnozzi has released a new album! Aptly titled Sensorial - Portraits in Bossa & Jazz, this dynamic new album showcases the charismatic Italian singer at her best as she explores the Bossa Nova songbook through her individualistic lens.

Guitarist Paul Ricci leads Minnozzi's first rate band featuring pianist Art Hirahara, bassists Harvie S and Essiet Okon Essiet, drummer Victor Jones, and the always riveting percussionists Will Calhoun and Rogério Boccato on select tracks. Minnozzi has graced many stages in New York City, including Zinc Bar, Mezzrow and Birdland Jazz Club.

Minnozzi brings long-overdue recognition to select Brazilian composers less present in the jazz world alongside the ubiquitous compositional prowess of Antonio Carlos Jobim - seven of Jobim's originally-penned tracks are featured while the influence of his work with Joao Gilberto is also evident across the album's remaining six tracks in both arrangement and swing - it's no surprise that musical director Paul Ricci has lent his talents to the works of singers Astrud and Bebel Gilberto - wife and daughter of João.

?From track one's introductory phrase on Jobim's "A Felicidade" it is clear that this is not a typical Bossa nova project as the band turns up both the tempo and the heat with the spontaneity and interplay of a jazz quintet and Mafalda is clearly the horn.

Another standout track from the album is "Vivo Sonhando". This modern interpretation of the Jobim classic makes the most of the lyric's meaning with a hypnotic beat from Victor Jones and a dreamlike guitar backdrop leaving singer Mafalda Minnozzi and pianist Art Hirahara to improvise and explore the timeless melody with unique colors and jazzy possibilities.

Chico Buarque's majestic "Morro Dois Irmaos" captures the composer's poetry in a mystical ensemble dialogue that melds the jazz element into a song rarely exported beyond the Brazilian border in an arrangement that exploits Mafalda's gift for exuberant flight in the heat of the final moments.

After listening to the mix of "Samba da Benção", special guest percussionist Will Calhoun reflected, "that track is magic." This Baden Powell composition can be regarded as one of the album's epitomic tracks - it strives to rearrange a classic from Mafalda's individualistic perspective, to the point of pleasantly surprising those who know - or think they know - the original composition. Here, Mafalda truly makes the most of the mesmerizing African influenced pulse provided by Calhoun's udu drum to in a musical dance with pianist Art Hirahara.

"Once I Loved" is one of the two tracks on the album sung in English. On this tune, Mafalda's vocal captures the fragility and innocence of the lyrics and sets the tone for the band's introspective mood. Essiet Okon Essiet's atypical funky approach to the bass with Rogério Boccato's tamborim propels the spirited melodic solos by Art Hirahara and Paul Ricci. Drummer Victor Jones turns up the intensity to prepare Mafalda's final phrases that further lift the energy to a determined closing statement.

The album changes mood with a Getz/Gilberto classic and perhaps one of Jobim's most famous tunes, "Chega de Saudade". Mafalda puts to rest the question if this is a happy or sad song. Although it is about "saudade", or a great longing and desire to stay at a loved one's side, this joyful interpretation assures us that a happy ending is in sight. Harvie S steps out for a masterful solo as the interplay and suspense of what will happen next becomes the spark for Mafalda's creative scat singing that is not only melodic but also percussive.

Sensorial - Portraits in Bossa & Jazz also visits the more visceral sound of the Samba in both an almost "Blue Note" reading of Toninho Horta's "Mocidade" and in the standout "Jogral" (a track which has been regularly performed by popular composer Djavan) Filó Machado and José Neto's roller coaster melody is taken to a full out grooving Samba in the masterful hands of percussionist Rogério Boccato while the band pushes the envelope with collective improvisation behind Mafalda's spirited scatting to a wild ending that liberates the listener from the intensity of the driving beat.

Completing the list of great Brazilian composers, Mafalda includes an Italian version of "Un Altro Addio" by Toquinho/Vinicius de Moraes and "É Preciso Perdoar" by Alcevando Luz/Carlos Coqueijo which is kicked off with John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" as both themes seem to be woven from the same soulful fabric of jazz and afro Brazilian colors.

In the words of Mafalda "the process and selection of the songs represent the feelings that flow through me from the energy that Brazilian music creates in both a physical and sensorial manner that goes beyond singing ... it's like a vocal dance involving all the senses, maybe 5 aren't enough. I'm certain that in the horizons, in the animals and fruits, in the colors and smells that are Brazil, there is a language here, both in me and in these great songs. The great act of liberty for me was to run free through these songs and with the help of these great musicians ...I closed my eyes in the studio and saw it all again in a life's story across cultures."

 


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