Ana Gazzola is best known in Los Angeles for her work with Brasil Brazil, a troupe she created with Sonia Santos, a fellow singer and songwriter from Brazil. Their high-energy blend of jazz and Brazilian music has made them one of the city’s most exciting acts. Gazzola has also made two solo albums of MPB styled music – Brazilicious, a collection of original love songs and Brazility, covers of tunes by her favorite writers including Tom Jobim, Kurt Cobain, Gilberto Gil, and The Rolling Stones.
Musicas E Palavras Dos Bee Gees, Gazzola’s third album, is a slight departure, a salute to one of her favorite singing groups. “I had a Bee Gees album when I was a teen and I’ve loved them ever since, even though I didn’t understand English. I translated the words into Portuguese with my singing partner Sonia Santos. When people in Brazil hear it, they will finally understand the real feeling behind the Bee Gees words.”
Carla Olson (Textones, Taj Mahal, Mare Winningham, Phil Upchurch, Chubby Tavares) and her partner Saul Davis produced, aiming for a sensual, romantic feel. “We recorded live in the studio with a quartet – piano, bass, drums and guitar. We created simple, stripped down arrangements, the opposite of the original Bee Gees productions. The album may be in Portuguese, it’s not in a Brazilian style. It’s in a simple, romantic pop style.”
The players on Musicas E Palavras Dos Bee Gees may turn in hushed, subtle, performances, but the emotions run high, with vocals from Gazzola that simmer with barely restrained passion, maybe the way Sade would sound if she sang in Portuguese. “Como é o seu amor” (How Deep Is Your Love) blends delicate percussion accents, chiming keys by Pablo Medina of Brasil Brazil and subliminal guitar work by Laurence Juber (Wings). The muted guitar arpeggios of Peter Leinheiser from Andy Gibb’s touring band of the late 70s, drive the low-key funk of “Guilty.” Gazzola’s vocal is so full of yearning and heartache, you can almost feel her holding back the tears. “Run To Me” has a subtle country accent thanks to Texas guitar hero Eric Johnson’s moody cosmic cowboy slide work and Gazzola’s luscious harmonies. “Shine Shine,” the album’s lone world music track, has traces of calypso and South African jive, supplied by Brasil Brazil drummer Ze Bruno Eisenberg’s rhythms and complimented by Gazzola’s lively scatted outro.
“I think we made some magic in the studio,” Gazzola says. “These songs have always been romantic to me. I put a lot of energy and love into these songs. I want people to feel the same way when they listen to it.”
Gazzola was born in Caxias do Sul, a city in Rio Grande do Sul in Southern Brazil. “My mother plays guitar and sings,” she recalls. “I learned about jazz and opera from my father. We had five guitars at home; my mother sang in French, German, Spanish, English, and Portuguese. She taught me and my brother and sisters to play guitar and sing harmonies.”
Growing up, Gazzola sang at school recitals and on a local TV show for kids, and dreamed of becoming a professional entertainer. She continued singing in clubs and festivals in Porto Alegre while she was studying to become an architect, but eventually she dropped out to pursue her singing career. Her first professional gig was singing with her trio at Caligula in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, the most famous nightclub in Rio that time. “I sang six nights a week for two and a half years and met people like Sting, Julio Iglesias, Bianca Jagger and Giuliano Gemma.” She also toured Brazil with pianist Luis Carlos Vinhas, opening for stars like Baden Powell.
Gazzola studied English as a second language at New York University and then moved to LA to work in a cousin’s import and export business. “I also had a job as a limousine driver and met celebrities like George Benson, Naomi Campbell, Mel Gibson, Yanni, and John Raitt. It was an adventure.”
In 1994, the final matches of the World Cup were held in Pasadena. To celebrate the occasion, Gazzola and Sonia Santos, a fellow singer and songwriter from Brazil, created Brasil Brazil. The troupe includes a four-piece band and the two singers. Their high-energy blend of jazz and Brazilian music has made them one of LA’s most exciting acts. The band has released three albums and two DVDs.