Lori Bell / Blog

Resonance Records : The Music of Djavan

From American jazz vocal royalty Carmen McRae and Al Jarreau to Brazilian singing stars Gal Costa and Caetano Veloso, the songs of Brazilian singing/songwriting pop star Djavan have been sung and heard `round the world. To a lesser extent, the music of Djavan (pronounced zha-von) - heavy in the lyric department – has not been as voluminously covered on the instrumental side. Producer George Klabin – the founder of Resonance Records and half Brazilian felt a responsibility to change that tune. He is doing so by signing classically trained jazz flautist Lori Bell to Resonance and assigning her first project for the label to be the labor of love, The Music of Djavan. Lori Bell, who has been making recordings as a leader since her self-titled 1983 debut, is no stranger to Brazilian music. In fact, her first instrument was the ukulele at age 4 and the first two songs her father – a big band trumpeter in New York City - taught her were “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars),” both penned by the godfather of Brazilian song, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Later as a professional musician, Lori’s sophomore album was 1989’s Take Me to Brazil (the first to contain her original compositions and, like her debut, on the renowned West Coast jazz imprint Discovery Records). However, though Lori was well versed in the music of Jobim and other Bossa Nova pioneers like Luis Bonfa and the more modern Brazilian jazz fusion of the trio Azymuth, she was not as familiar with Djavan’s music.

“George was real insistent about doing the Djavan project, and sent me a CD of thirteen of his favorite Djavan songs”, said Lori. My first thought was that I was going to need much more space for me and the other musicians to solo, and that my biggest challenge was going to be how to phrase certain things. Learning music with lyrics I didn't understand was a challenge. Because Djavan’s music rests so heavily on his lyrics and Portuguese has so many syllables, there was some occasional editing I had to do to make the lines flow more naturally for the flute. Let’s just say I had a lot of work on my plate!”

After acquainting herself further with the material, Lori quickly wrote three arrangements, including “Luz” (a breezy skip for which she reworked the solo section and added a minor third modulation at the coda). She then met her trio of Tamir Hendelman on piano, David Enos on bass and Enzo Todesco on drums, then immediately began fine tuning and recording songs.“Some parts of the arrangements happened right before we recorded them,” Ms. Bell marvels. By the next session, an exhilarating arranging approach was begun. “I’d be flying up the 405 on my cell going, ‘Let’s try this one in 6’ while Tamir was at the piano finessing stuff, too. Then once I got to the studio, the whole band would try more things as a collective. By that second session our hearts were completely open as we began to fall in love with the music and the possibilities. Tamir came up with the idea of us trading lines on ‘Nobreza’- a beautiful man/woman kind of thing.”

Among Lori’s favorites are the syncopated samba “Jogral,” the sexy dual tempo of “A Ilha,” the floating beauty of “Alibi” and the joyful groove of “Serrado” for which Lori layered a trio of C and alto flutes to heady effect, Tamir takes a swingin’ solo and percussionist Ana Gazzola adds sumptuous colors. Gazzola returns on “Capim” also lending her voice to a particularly popular Djavan song that has been covered by many, including The Manhattan Transfer. And bassist Enos is nicely featured on the impassioned “Liberdade” (rendered as a jazz waltz) then unleashed to bring the funk on “Canto de Lyra.” The CD comes to a serene and reverent close with “Faltando Um Pedaço (Missing a Piece),” fully orchestrated by Kuno Schmid in a way that recalls the lyricism of Chuck Mangione.

Read More: http://www.resonancerecords.org/downloads/BellPressRelease.pdf