Sensorial – Portraits in Bossa & Jazz
Release date: July 20, 2020
Celebrated vocalist Mafalda Minnozzi weaves jazz improvisation and Italian romanticism with timeless Bossa roots on Sensorial – Portraits in Bossa & Jazz
Under the musical direction of guitarist Paul Ricci and with the help of heavyweights like pianist Art Hirahara, bassists Essiet Okon Essiet and Harvie S, drummer Victor Jones and percussionists Will Calhoun and Rogério Boccato, Sensorial revisits and reimagines the Brazilian songbook, while consciously interlacing the dynamism of New York City in an imaginative blend of Bossa and Jazz. With its track selection inspired by the aesthetics of Gil Evans, João Gilberto and Roberto Murolo, Sensorial not only showcases internationally acclaimed vocalist Mafalda Minnozzi’s unmistakable technique and spirit, but presents a collection of emotionally charged arrangements drawing from her multicultural career in South America, Italy and New York City. Known for her explosively energetic live performances, this recorded project aims to deliver that same fiery appeal – with the accompaniment of live video performances of each track this release succeeds in doing just that.
In particular, “Sensorial – Portraits in Bossa & Jazz“ brings deserved recognition and light to some 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 (including his often recorded Dindi, Desafinado and Triste) 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.”
More about Mafalda Minnozzi
Born in Pavia, Italy, Mafalda Minnozzi is a charismatic singer and composer who over her career has melded her vocal virtuosity with jazz in an individual sound that evokes standing ovations from audiences and impresses critics on an ever expanding international level. Her trajectory from clubs and TV in Rome to Rio De Janeiro launched an over 20 year career in Brazil that includes prestigious collaborations with Milton Nascimento, Leny Andrade, André Mehmari, Guinga, Hugo Fattoruso, Filó Machado, Martinho da Vila, Toquinho and so many others. Her resume includes TV shows, 15 CDs, 2 DVDs, film and TV soundtracks as both singer and composer, S. American jazz festivals and shows throughout Brazil in its most prestigious venues. At the same time, she has performed in major Italian jazz festivals often with her “eMPathia Jazz Duo” project with Paul Ricci, and has recently brought her NY band on an Italian jazz festival tour previewing the release of Sensorial, garnering her acclaim in JAZZIT magazine’s top 10 vocalists two years in a row in 2018 and 2019.
In NY, she has been making her name at Birdland, Mezzrow’s and Zinc bar among other venues over these last 3 years. A growing fan base and buzz from NY’s great players have made each of her appearances an event as the scene integrates with and embraces Mafalda Minnozzi’s style.
RAUL DA GAMA
LATIN JAZZ NETWORK
Somehow it seemed appropriate to want to know more about how this came to be so we talked at some length about her music, the music of Sensorial and of her love for Brasil… and for life in general. Read this interview here.
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"While making it sound easy with the Samba Songbook, she could probably make a guy sweat reading the phone book!" Read this full review here.
"Loaded with enough freedom of spirit not to be held back at any twists and turns, enjoy it as forward thinking world beat that refuses to let you down. Sounds like Jobim left enough white space to take his stuff well into the future." Read this full review here.
MAKING A SCENE
"This rich, sensual, relaxing music is a treat for the senses, made that much more appealing by the videos that accompany the selections – as they say, “for your viewing and listening pleasure.” Read the full article here.
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. Read the full article here.
TRAVIS RODGERS JR
THE JAZZ OWL
"Mafalda Minnozzi has brought forward everything she learned and enjoyed in her sojourn in Brazil. Under the musical direction of Paul Ricci and the talent of Art Hirahara and the others, Sensorial: Portraits in Bossa & Jazz breathes fresh life into music we have loved for so long." Read the full review here.
RAUL DA GAMA
LATIN JAZZ NETWORK
"Anyone who thinks that this hyperbole is itself unwarranted and over-the-top has only to listen to Miss Minnozzi interpret the aforementioned song and then follow that up with a wordless and breathy, version of Djavan’s “Jogral” to listen to just how Miss Minnozzi can perform the most incredible vocalastics… And to follow that up with the most evocative version of Jobim’s “Dindi” from an inspired, exceptionally bluesy arrangement certainly makes all of this music to absolutely die for." Read the full review here.
LA HABITACIÓN DEL JAZZ
"Domina el scat y el vocalese y nos traslada a los mejores momentos de la música brasileña un tanto olvidada en Europa desde hace muchos años. Se echaba de menos un disco de estas características." Lea esta reseña aquí.
CANCIÓN A QUEMARROPA
"Con su selección de pistas inspirada en la estética de Gil Evans, João Gilberto y Roberto Murolo, Sensorial no solo muestra la técnica y el espíritu inconfundibles de Mafalda Minnozzi, sino que presenta una colección de arreglos cargados de emociones que parten de su carrera multicultural en Sudamérica, Italia y Nueva York Ciudad." Lea esta reseña aquí.
"La brillante producción del guitarrista neoyorquino Paul Ricci (colaborador de Astrud y Bebel Gilberto, y de Hugo Fattoruso, entre otros) permite en Sensorial: Portraits in Bossa & Jazz un asombroso despliegue de la voz de Minnozzi y le da libre albedrío a la inventiva del resto de la banda, sobre esta serie de composiciones, algunas clásicas y otras menos transitadas, de Jobim y Vinicius de Moraes, de Baden Powell y de Chico Buarque." Lea esta reseña aquí.
Italian vocalist Mafalda Minnozzi will release Sensorial – Portraits in Bossa & Jazz, on July 20. Here, she revisits and reimagines classics and lesser-known works of the Brazilians songbook, blending bossa with the dynamism of jazz and a pinch of Italian romanticism. Read the full article here.