Release Date: April 21, 2023
Label: Jazz Station Records
Luiz Millan delivers a passionate musical message on his fifth album release, Brazilian Match. Produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro and arranged by Michel Freidenson, Brazilian Match features an exceptional all-star cast of musical collaborators: multi-GRAMMY® winners David Sanborn, Randy Brecker and Mark Egan are among the main soloists, along with The New York Voices, Eddie Daniels, Mike Mainieri, Ada Rovatti, John Tropea, Barry Finnerty, Danny Gottlieb, Josh Marcum, singers Ellen Johnson, Alice Soyer, Lisa Ono, Clémentine and Gianna Viscardi, plus two dozens of Brazil’s greatest players.
Millan’s music is an oasis in a noisy and turbulent world. He follows the tradition of such Brazilian musical heroes as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, João Gilberto, Ivan Lins, Marcos Valle, Edu Lobo, and Chico Buarque, but remains singular in his sound. Millan moves forward in the evolution of Brazilian popular music, updating and adding new colors to the bossa nova genre, and redefining its expressive potential.
According to jazz historian Douglas Payne, Luiz Millan is “Brazil’s most remarkable contemporary singer-songwriter, a unique master of melody and lyrical form. Brazilian Match should prove to be his breakout moment!” Born in São Paulo, Millan studied classical piano and popular acoustic guitar as a teenager. He also graduated as a doctor in 1982, specializing in Psychiatry. Millan has composed film scores, written songs for other Brazilian singers, and recorded four albums as a leader and one DVD.
“A composer’s composer, Millan is a multi-dimensional artist,” says producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro, who has worked extensively with Jobim, Gilberto, Bonfá, Eumir Deodato, Dom Um Romão, Ithamara Koorax and João Donato. “A great melodist who also happens to be a great poet, a fabulous storyteller, a painter of wonderful sonic landscapes. He deals with the notes like a painter deals with palettes and colors. The most beautiful images and feelings flow beneath his songs.” DeSouteiro set out to place Millan’s songwriting skills in the proper frame with a much-deserved jazz color to match his Brazilian soul.
The starry cast invited to Millan’s party shines throughout. Six-time GRAMMY® winner David Sanborn, one of the most iconic and influential alto saxophonists of his generation, showcases his expressiveness on “In The Grove of The Jacarandas.” He plays a poetic solo and also “sings” the bridge in unison with Mark Egan‘s unique fretless bass, adorning Ellen Johnson’s vocals in a lilting bossa-jazz mood. “It’s been a joy to sing to this track and has lifted my spirits, so I can imagine what it will do for people when they hear it as well,” says the LA-based singer.
Multi-GRAMMY® award winning trumpeter Randy Brecker contributes outstanding solos on “Andar Descalço” and “Morungaba,” flying over two different styles of samba grooves. Both flaunt lessons in dynamics, highly advanced phrasing, and perfect articulation. Brecker’s intimate connection with Brazilian music started exactly 50 years ago on the famous Donato/Deodato album in 1973.
The haunting “Full Moon” (“Lua Cheia”) appears with two different renditions. The fabulous New York Voices performs the English version, with lyrics by Peter Eldridge, while Millan himself and the co-composer Jorge Pinheiro sing the original Brazilian lyrics with the support of ace guitarist Barry Finnerty, a former collaborator of Miles Davis, The Crusaders, and The Brecker Brothers. Two other legendary musicians who have played together for over 40 years, bassist Mark Egan (Pat Metheny Group, Stan Getz, Gil Evans, Sting) and drummer Danny Gottlieb (Metheny, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin) add a special flavor to both versions.
On the gorgeous ballad “Madrugada,” co-written by Millan and Michel Freidenson, producer DeSouteiro had the idea to intertwine the talents of clarinet virtuoso Eddie Daniels, vibraphone master Mike Mainieri (Steps Ahead, George Benson, Paul McCartney, Dire Straits) and Josh Marcum’s fascinating arco bass lines. The result is a crystal-clear impressionistic beauty.
“Pacuíba,” the delightful and joyful album opener, features the classy guitar style of John Tropea (famous for his collaborations with Deodato, Lalo Schifrin, Paul Simon, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Claus Ogerman) evoking memories of Wes Montgomery.
Ada Rovatti, the superb Italian tenorist, shines with a passionate Coltrane-esque solo on the sparkling Latin jazz gem “Quem Sabe,” propelled by the fiery percussive arsenal of Chico Batera (Sergio Mendes, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Cat Stevens, The Doors).
Edu Ribeiro, a founding member of the GRAMMY®-winning Trio Corrente, contributes with a dazzling brushwork reminiscent of great Brazilian drummers like João Palma and Helcio Milito, most notably on the whimsical “Sopro de Esperança.”
Alice Soyer shines as a tremendously gifted singer/lyricist on “Still Looking At The Moon,” a bright and beautifully-articulated synthesis of pop, R&B and jazz, enhanced by a hypnotic groove. Another versatile singer, Giana Viscardi, sings the original Portuguese lyrics on the track properly retitled “Farrapos de Lua” alongside Millan himself. Both lyrics tell the same story: the saga of thousands of poor children that live in the streets of major Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Clémentine, the best French jazz & bossa singer who has sold over four million records, adds her subtle and seductive French charm to “Montparnasse” and “Morungaba,” both with French lyrics by Marilia Millan.
Lisa Ono, Japan’s national treasure, floats with her warm voice on the Portuguese version of “Morungaba,” a seductive and gently grooving samba that is one of Millan’s most pleasant offerings.
Other standout cuts include “Que Os Ventos Limpem Os Tempos,” “Ecos da Juventude” and “Século XXI,” the latter featuring the harmonica work of Humberto Clayber (Sambalanço Trio, Sambrasa Trio, Cesar Camargo Mariano).
“Working with two geniuses like Arnaldo DeSouteiro and Michel Freidenson was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Luiz Millan states. “In addition to my usual partners, whom I love, we’ve been super-charged by these outstanding musicians from across the musical spectrum. I am so grateful to everyone.”
Throughout Brazilian Match, Luiz Millan has fashioned a nuanced, subtle, elegant, richly textured and highly cinematic songwriting style that transcends musical boundaries with a mesmerizing inventiveness, appealing to jazz, bossa, pop and adult audiences alike. He establishes a new, exciting and accessible bond between jazz and Brazilian music, reaching the most rewarding results of that fusion. In Millan’s hands, music defies categorization and becomes a universal language. Those that love the music by Jobim, Bonfá, João Gilberto and Ivan Lins will undoubtedly appreciate and be drawn to Luiz Millan’s music too.
"Luiz writes with poetry and passion, and his songs evoke the hypnotic melodies by bossa nova composers in the late 1950s and '60s." Read the full interview here.
RAUL DA GAMA
WORLD MUSIC REPORT
"Luiz Millan, like the great Brasilian bards – João Gilberto, Tom Jobim and Chico Buarque – is just that kind of musician, who captures this soft, gleaming ‘Brasilliance’ in both his music and his vocals." Read the full interview here.