Natalie and Ian Guinga Album Cover

Street Date: April 12, 2024
Label: GroundUP!

Traveling through the lush paradise of Brazilian music, there are few more scenic byways than música popular brasileira - the enduring alchemy of fusing genres like samba and baião within the larger frameworks of Jazz, rock, classical and popular music. Even without a map, exploring this unique terrain with its rich harmonic complexity, elaborate lyrics, and remarkable emotive metaphors, leads musicians towards an inescapable reality: all roads lead to Guinga - the master guitarist, composer arranger and Brazilian music legend. 

Born as Carlos Althier de Souza Lemos Escobar, Guinga grew up in Rio de Janeiro absorbing Brazilian contemporary and folkloric music as well as classical, rock, pop and Jazz. Having shaped a creative identity that embraces the signature energy of Brazil’s diverse artistic enterprise, Guinga’s legacy lives within the spirit of crafting a voice that’s essentially Brazilian while cultivating a vivacious universal appeal. A spirit lovingly captured by trombonist Natalie Cressman and guitarist Ian Faquini within their new GroundUP album GUINGA, releasing on April 12, 2024.

Trombone/classical guitar duos are very rare in Jazz. While few dare to exist beyond the occasional recording or live performance, Cressman and Faquini have transformed their platform into a sophisticated medium showcasing the extraordinary influence Brazilian contemporary artistry has had on music throughout the world. Tagged as the “Bossa Nova girl” while studying at the Manhattan School of Music, Cressman has always been inspired by Brazilian culture, frequently attending the California Brazil Camp in the mountainous enclave of Cazadero, California where she met Faquini, a Guinga protégé teaching at this annual summer gathering.

In time they discovered the dynamic nature of their instrumental pairing as well as the unique aperture it lends to the intricate nature of Brazilian music. Having mastered a resonant, open, and full bodied sound, Cressman and Faquini utilize a spacious tonal vocabulary, deft harmonic pairings and meticulous arranging that perfectly lends itself to the unique repertoire they’ve cultivated over the years. Steadied by the Brazilian aural tradition of learning, each has honed the necessary skills that accentuate the rich lyrical nature of música popular brasileira with its exquisite storytelling and incisive musical lens. Their two previous albums, Setting Rays of Summer (2019) and Auburn Whisper (2022) received well-deserved acclaim and attention. 

Organic, improvisational and often initiated by humming out melodies, Guinga’s compositional style has played a significant role in shaping Cressman and Faquini’s artistic chemistry. Having spent years watching the master at work, both are fluent in the processes that powers Guinga’s magic, as his fluid incorporation of musical influences blends seamlessly with the florid temperament of their own creative ambitions. After recording albums exploring their personal relationship to contemporary Brazilian music, it was only a matter of time before Cressman and Faquini decided to focus on Guinga, a musician who’s been a mentor, teacher, collaborator and friend throughout the course of their careers. 

Unlike most tribute albums celebrating artists long past, Guinga’s contributions are central to the process of the recording. Composing, arranging, and collaborating as a lyricist, Guinga’s ingenuity is matched only by his evocative and often haunting vocals. Compact, discreet, remarkably positioned with no less than fourteen songs, the album flows effortlessly like a personal juke box supplied by an endless roll of Brazilian centavos, all while unfolding into a delicate mosaic of Guinga’s musical world view. 

Always fond of compelling song titles, the album begins with “Contradição (Contradiction)”, Faquini and Guinga's first collaborative compositional effort. Overdubbing her trombone, Cressman constructs guiding harmonies while Guinga’s voice sways with the “valsa blues” structure of the song. With its paradoxical title and timeless melody, “Bolero de Satã (Satan’s Bolero)” was a hit for Guinga during the 1970’s. Romantic, ornate, serenaded by Cressman’s gorgeous solo and Faquini’s pristine harmonics, Bolero de Satã evolves into a superb example of the unique prism this duo applies to Guinga’s artistry.

Celebrating the life and work of Conceição Damasceno, the founder of the BrasArte Brazilian arts center in Berkley, California, first single “Lavagem de Conceição” combines the baião rhythm from northern Brazil with the ceremonial spirit of lavagem or “washing” (a common ritual of the Candomblé religion originally established by enslaved West Africans) supported by background vocals from Guinga’s partner Anna Paes and Natalie’s mother Sandy Cressman. Exemplifying Guinga’s love for angular melodies is “Aria de Opereta” (Operetta Aria), a somber tune lightly adorned by the subtle shades of a classical arrangement.

With no wasted notes, the short and sweet “Delírio Carioca” (Carioca Delirium) delicately soothes via Guinga’s “feverish” appeal to all matters of the heart, while “Ramo de Delírios (Bouquet of Delirium) similarly explores “obsession and passion” representing one of Cressman and Faquini’s favorite tunes from Guinga’s first recorded album. Pirouetting with intricate sixteenth notes, Guinga again adapts the rhythmic elasticity of baião with “Por Trás de Brás de Pina” (Behind Brás de Pina), his vivacious ode to a northern neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Heavily influenced by Duke Ellington, Guinga takes the helm playing with Cressman on “Par Constante” (Constant Pair). Borrowing heavily from Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood”, Guinga's love for this era of Jazz is clear as Cressman captures the moment beautifully with her technical dexterity and nostalgic tone.

Circling back to Rio, “Garoa e Maresia” (Mist and Sea Air) speaks to Guinga’s ache for the gentle waves of the city’s glorious beaches but the album’s tour de force of longing resides in “Segredo de Dadá” (Dadá’s Secret). Written during the height of COVID, Faquini’s ballad to Brazil, and of missing his grandmother, was lyrically adapted by Guinga to include his own desire to see the Bay Area again. On Guinga’s medley “Nítido e Obscuro / Geraldo No Leme” (Clear and Opaque / Geraldo in Leme), Cressman and Faquini make easy work of syncopated duple meters proving again their mastery of baião based rhythms.  

Ellingtoniana” unfolds as Guinga’s intriguing exploration of the symbiotic relationship between Ellington’s contribution to the great American songbook, and the prolific beauty of the melodic paradigms within Brazilian contemporary music. With its subtle modulations on trombone and delicate counterpoint on guitar, “Viola Variada” (Varied “Guitar”) references the agile ways Cressman and Faquini choose to dance within this music as their phrasing allows each to lead before the song quietly comes to a close. Celebrating the end of this glorious achievement, Guinga concludes with “Vô Alfredo” (Grandpa Alfredo), a composition built upon the Pernambuco frevo rhythm from northeastern Brazil. Combining the energies of Carnaval with the diction of classical music, Guinga’s tribute to his grandfather becomes our final glimpse into the elegance of his compositional style, exemplified brilliantly by Cressman and Faquini’s elite command for their instruments.

Simplicity can feel like a rare commodity in our increasingly complex world. Knowing this, Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini recognize that the simplicity of their instrumentation provides an introspective way to celebrate the legacy of música popular brasileira and the remarkable manner in which Guinga extends the vocabularies of its exceptional harmonic and melodic systems. Managing the perfect balance of space, pacing and musicianship, Cressman and Faquini have mastered the mechanics of unpacking the deep musical authority that defines the DNA of Brazilian music and the core of Guinga’s genius. 

Understood as an artistic requirement, Cressman and Faquini clearly recognize the nature of their quiet stage.  “It’s a very noisy world we live in,” they shared, adding “the softer subtleties of the style of our music is like a balm. It's healing and cathartic to play and to experience it as a listener.” Within this slender margin comes a delicate responsibility for framing the kind of artistic excellence Guinga epitomizes. Guinga does this and so much more. Exploring this legend’s proprietary language of life, love and the vivid emotional mindset that transcribes them to music, Cressman and Faquini have crafted a sophisticated space to experience the buoyant resonance throughout the fluorescent landscape of Guinga’s storied career.

Michael Ambrosino writes about music and culture, producing and hosting a variety of Jazz programs on

Street Date: April 15th, 2022
Label: GroundUP!

Auburn Whisper—the latest album from trombonist, singer, and songwriter Natalie Cressman and guitarist, composer, and vocalist Ian Faquini—not only serves as a testament to the couple’s symbiotic musical partnership but also to their resilience during unprecedented times. Written and recorded in 2020, Auburn Whisper finds the two artists blending traditional Brazilian rhythms with modern, expansive arrangements—reflecting on people and places they miss while discovering joy within the present moment.

The first single, “Afoxé Pra Oxum”, was released in late January. Watch the video here. On March 4, the second single, the title track, will be released on all platforms, along with an accompanying music video.

Some might say that Cressman and Faquini were destined to meet in the majestic redwood forests of Cazadero, CA. There, musicians from around the world gather annually for Brazil Camp—a week-long retreat that offers masterclasses from the South American country’s greatest talents. As children, Cressman and Faquini accompanied their parents to the camp, where they unknowingly played their first notes together at seven and eight years old, respectively.

Raised in the Bay Area, Cressman was surrounded by music. Her father, Jeff Cressman, is a renowned trombonist, producer, and engineer, while her mother, Sandy Cressman, is a jazz singer and passionate interpreter of Brazilian music. Faquini, meanwhile, was born in Brazil and relocated to Northern California when he was eight. As a young guitarist, his interests were centered firmly on rock music. But that changed at 15 when he met the legendary composer and guitarist, Guinga, at Brazil Camp. “We hit it off immediately,” recalls Faquini of his mentor. “When I met Guinga, I switched my entire focus to Brazilian music.”

Over the next decade, the pair forged successful careers on either side of the country. In New York, Cressman became an accomplished trombonist and vocalist, recording a variety of solo projects, performing in Broadway pit orchestras, and building a following in the jam, funk, and jazz circuits with acts like the Trey Anastasio Band, Peter Apfelbaum, Big Gigantic, and Umphrey’s McGee. Remaining in the Bay Area, Faquini established himself as one of the region’s foremost guitarists and authorities on Brazilian music. In addition to releasing his own music, Faquini joined the faculty at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory and became an in-demand collaborator—often working with Jeff and Sandy Cressman.

But it was Brazil Camp that would eventually unite the two musicians as adults. The title track of Auburn Whisper details those early days together in the forests of Northern California. “The magic and beauty of the redwoods just fit with those feelings of opening up to somebody, musically and romantically,” shares Cressman. The song also includes a nod to Guinga, who, years before, had a premonition that the duo would become involved.

Cressman and Faquini’s relationship flourished and, in 2019, they released Setting Rays of Summer. While they intended to spend much of the following year touring around the acclaimed album, the global pandemic changed their plans. Returning to California, the couple channeled their disappointment into songwriting. They settled into a comfortable routine, which included weekly recording sessions at Jeff Cressman’s home studio. The process, Cressman recalls, “was all very organic. Without any commitments or restraints, we were able to take the time we needed to realize these songs and bring them to life.”

That freedom also allowed the pair to take a more hands-on approach as producers and, for Cressman, to broaden her work as an arranger. “The arrangements took on a big role in the overall sound of the album,” notes Cressman, who typically writes the duo’s English lyrics, while Faquini composes the melodies. In contrast to the stripped-down, live tracking of Setting Rays of SummerAuburn Whisper found the duo revisiting each song, building layers of lush, nuanced trombone and multidimensional vocal harmonies. “With the extra time, we were really able to pay attention to detail,” she adds. “Normally, it would have taken us years to write this music.”

Many of the songs on Auburn Whisper were influenced by the unique era that they were written in—and the rainbow of emotions that arose during lockdown. Threads of yearning and lament intertwine with joyful memories and introspective contemplation. “Segredo De Dadá,” for instance, finds Faquini longing to visit his grandmother (nicknamed “Dadá”) in Copacabana. When he sent the expressive song to Guinga, the composer felt his own sense of saudades for Brazil Camp, which was canceled amidst the pandemic. Inspired, Guinga added lyrics, conjuring surreal, juxtaposed imagery of Rio and Northern California. Similarly, the poignant “Rear Window” (named for the classic Hitchcock film), paints a scene of isolation and desire. At the other end of the spectrum, the dreamy “Already There”—which the couple dubs their “Pandemic Anthem”—is about accepting one’s current state of being and bravely facing the unknown.

Indigenous Brazilian folklore also permeates the album, thanks to Iara Ferreira—a frequent collaborator of Faquini’s, who wrote the majority of Auburn Whisper’s Portuguese lyrics. “Iara’s words just meld so beautifully with the music,” Cressman says with admiration. “She always ties in a really fitting meaning that goes with the vibe of the song.” Among several examples is the spritely opening track, “Afoxé pra Oxum,” which references Oxum—the goddess of rivers, waterfalls, and freshwater. Set to a foundational ijexá rhythm, the meditative track incorporates a traditional chant to the deity, who is also a symbol of fertility, beauty, and wealth.

“Brazilian music and culture is a mix of African, European, and indigenous traditions,” explains Faquini. “Indigenous words are part of Brazilian Portuguese and contribute to the rhythm of the language, so I’m always thinking about that when writing songs.” One particularly percussive vocal performance can be heard in “Curandeiro,” in which the duo sings about a healer who cares for the Mundukuru people of the Amazon. The song also marvels at human beings’ vital connection to nature—another prominent theme of Auburn Whisper. The bright “Benção de Iansá,” meanwhile, offers a blessing to Iansá, the goddess of winds, storms, lightning, and fire, who is frequently called upon to ease the pain of life’s difficult moments.

Reflecting on the turbulence of the pandemic, the duo certainly conjured their own inner strength—growing together as both artists and as a couple. “With the year that 2020 could have been, there was certainly a feeling of loss. But it ultimately gave us time to be creative—something that we rarely have when we’re touring,” shares Cressman. “Together, we were able to get back to the heart of why we really love music.”



Album: Setting Rays of Summer
Street Date: April 5th, 2019
Label: Cressman Music

Setting Rays of Summer is the new duo project from trombonist and singer-songwriter Natalie Cressman and Brazilian composer, guitarist and vocalist Ian Faquini. Drawing from impressionism, jazz, and the great Brazilian songwriting tradition, Setting Rays of Summer is a ten-track collection of original material featuring compositions in three different languages: Portuguese, English and French. With the warm instrumentation of acoustic guitar and trombone alongside two-part vocal harmonies hugging the Brazilian-accented Portuguese, Cressman & Faquini weave their musical voices together to create a fully orchestrated sound befitting a much larger ensemble.

Cressman’s fifth album as a leader and Faquini’s third, Setting Rays of Summer is a uniquely intimate debut collaboration. Incorporating various rhythms from Brazil, including baião, samba, and ijexá, the album encompasses a vast spectrum of musical ground. The duo’s global take on music is largely expressed through the distinct compositional voice of Faquini, with occasional lyrics penned by Cressman. The album opens with “Terê” - a tune which takes its title from a woman of the same name. The song is a social outcry about the epidemic of violence against women, especially the economically disadvantaged women of the Brazilian communities known as favelas. Though the subject matter depicts strife and hardship, the rhythm is upbeat - a duality often present in the samba tradition.

While “L'aube” teams Faquini’s musicality with lyrics penned by Cressman in French, “Debandada” is an ijexá - a traditional Brazilian rhythm of African origin. Although rooted in Brazilian folkloric tradition the composition explores new harmonic and melodic paths. While the portuguese term, “debandada” usually refers to the migration of a flock of birds, here it represents animal’s need for escape from their rainforest habitat, due to man's destruction of their home. The title track is the first collaboration between the pair. The tune’s simple beauty reflects the influence of composers from Debussy to The Beatles. The lyrics follow the cadences of the melody with a pure narrative of two souls growing close as the seasons change.

Cressman and Faquini put this music forth with the hope that its honesty and intimacy resonates emotionally with their audiences. Exposing listeners to new stories and new styles of Brazilian music, Setting Rays of Summer is delivered with endearing simplicity which displays a fresh, individualistic sonic vision.

Possessing a voice as cool and crystalline, Natalie Cressman draws inspiration from a vast array of deep and powerful musical currents. While “her trombone is world-class”, according to Dave Good at the San Diego Reader, “her voice is an empathic entity that channels the ages”. Based in New York City, the trombonist and vocalist has spent the past eight years touring the jam band circuit as a horn player and singer with Phish's Trey Anastasio, while also performing with jazz greats Wycliffe Gordon, Nicholas Payton, Anat Cohen, and Peter Apfelbaum. Deeply versed in Latin jazz, post-bop, pop, and Brazilian music, she has released 3 albums under her own name as well 2016’s Etchings in Amber - a gorgeous duo album with guitarist Mike Bono. When she’s not performing her own music, Cressman can be found collaborating with some of the most revered figures in rock, funk, jazz and beyond which have included Carlos Santana, Aaron Neville, Dave Matthews, Phish, Big Gigantic, Escort, The Motet, and Umphrey's McGee.

As described by writer Andy Gilbert in SF Classical Voice, “Faquini writes astonishingly sophisticated Brazilian pop music in the omnivorous tradition known as MPB (música popular brasileira), which often draws heavily on jazz.” Born in Brasília and raised in Berkeley, Ian Faquini is a protégé of Guinga, the illustrious Brazilian guitarist and composer. Faquini was a member of the renowned Berkeley High School Jazz Program before going on to study at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley and, immediately after graduating, joined the faculty there. He has performed throughout Europe, Japan, Brazil and the United States, and has shared the stage and recording studio with such names as Guinga, Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Spok, Lee Konitz, Fleurine, among many others. Paul de Barros at the Seattle Times exudes, "Faquini is an uncannily masterful composer".

# # #

for Guinga

"Through their vocals, harmonic pairing and meticulous arrangements, Cressman and Faquini emphasize Guinga’s influence on their sound and that of innumerable peers" Read the full review here.

Read the full announcement here.

"The run will celebrate the release of their new album, GUINGA, featuring music by their musical mentor, Brazilian guitarist and composer Guinga, who plays on several tracks." Read the full announcement here.

"A moment of exquisite contemplation, that’s the sensation this album will provide you, so discreet that I can’t resist making it a “must-have” in an attempt to make it shine as it deserves." Check out the full review here.

Check out this feature on the editor's playlist here.

"Lovely and lovingly delivered, Guinga is a gem of a tribute from two great artists to another." Check out the full review here.

for Auburn Whisper

Read the album announcement here.

"Delving so deeply into the music and their skills, this is one of those sets you have to sit down and really listen to." Read the review here.

Watch the video premiere of "Auburn Whisper" here.

"The remarkably warm, smooth tone of Natalie's trombone playing she attributes to her father's guidance, and her mother's influence is evident in Natalie's singing. When mixed with Ian's guitar and voice, the result is otherworldly." Read the full story here.

Read the album announcement here.

"It’s no exaggeration to say that Brazilian music brought trombonist Natalie Cressman and guitarist Ian Faquini together. " Read the complete review here.

Get to know Natalie Cressman, Ian Faquini, and their latest album, Auburn Whisper in less than 10 minutes in this episode of Bite-Size Jazz here.

Watch the music video for "Ralando Coco" here.

Listen to the podcast in German here.

"With sinuous melodies that wend in unexpected directions and masterly instrumental interplay and beguiling vocal harmonies, Cressman and Faquini sound unlike anyone else on the scene.." Read the performance announcement here.

"Cressman’s trombone blends perfectly with Faquini’s guitar throughout.." Read the review here.

"Trombonist and guitarist remind of Getz-Gilberto and dive deeper in wistful readings of Brazilian folklore.." Read the full review here.

"..this is a lovely and very alluring spin on world music meets jazz meets folk sounds that resonates with much warmth." Read the review here.

Read the review in french here.

"The twenty-something Natalie Cressman has honed her skills singing (like her mother) in Portuguese and is quite proficient, like her father, on the trombone." Read the review here.

"Whether in multitracked harmony or solo, her brass playing is emotive and free, occasionally tough, always tender.." Read the full feature story on Natalie Cressman here.

"..their love of Brazilian music is evident throughout.." Read the review here.

Name to Jerome's Best Jazz Albums of 2022 list here.

Listed as #19 on Top 40 Jazz Albums of 2022 list here.

"Capitalizing on the studio’s possibilities without losing any of the intimacy endemic to their collaboration(s), Cressman and Faquini play and sing with real patience and purpose..." Read the Best of Jazz 2022 article here.

"The second release by the Bay Area Brazilian jazz duo of trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman and guitarist/vocalist Ian Faquini is another stunner.." Read the full article here.

See the Favorite Jazz of 2022 playlist here.

for Setting Rays of Summer

Trombonist and vocalist Natalie Cressman has released an album and a single with Brazilian guitarist Ian Faquini, and a second album is nearly complete. In this interview, Cressman talks about immersing herself in the Portuguese language; the subtlety of her duo playing with Faquini; virtual music during the pandemic; and the recording of their second album. Listen to this podcast here.

"The blend carries a powerful intimacy in the sound of their harmonized voices sailing over supple acoustic guitar and the occasional blast of smooth, pumping trombone."  Read the full review here.

"The music is so fully realized that it's all too easy to forget you're listening to only two musicians." Read the full feature here.


"Natalie Cressman’s career is soaring due to her artistic flexibility. At 28, the vocalist and winner of the category Rising Star–Trombone has collaborated with numerous individualists, including jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton and Phish guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio...Playing in a range of contexts has influenced her views on musical inclusion and expansion. “By being myself in every genre—trying to play the style but also following the aesthetic that I enjoy and the tone that I like on the trombone—I’ve found my niche,” she said." Read the full article here.

Best of 2019: "With Faquini's expert guitar work providing a propulsive lattice for Cressman's burnished horn and crystalline vocals, they deliver one ravishing song after another. The music is so fully realized that it's all too easy to forget you're listening to only two musicians."  Read the full piece here.

“She’s a top-shelf trombonist who’s worked with such diverse artists as Peter Apfelbaum and Phish’s Trey Anastasio, and is utterly at home in MPB (musica popular brasileira).”  Read the full review here.

"...beautiful songs in Portuguese, French and English influenced by Brazilian bossa nova, samba and MPB, with tinges of baião and ijexá mixed in." Read the full concert review here.

Andrew Gilbert
 "San Francisco-reared New York trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman and Brazilian-born Berkeley guitarist/composer Ian Faquini sound more like a quartet then a duo on this ravishing set of originals songs inspired by Brazil’s omnivorously cosmopolitan popular music tradition." Read the full feature here.

"A gorgeous and sensuous album by the team of Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini."  Read the full review here.

"The chemistry between the two musicians pops off the record and here’s hoping there’s plenty more where that LP came from." Read the full show review here

"...drenched in the folklore and the hypnotic rhythms and language of Brazil. It’s a sweet listen." Read the full review here.

Natalie Cressman chats to NWMS ahead of Seattle show. Read the full  interview here.

"In San Francisco-reared trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman he [Ian Faquini] has found an ideal muse and musical partner who can effortlessly caress Brazilian Portuguese vowels singing lead or harmony and croon his melodies on her horn with understated eloquence." Read full show preview here.

"Lenga Lenga" premiered here.

"Live, and on this album, Faquini’s unaffected tenor voice is accompanied sweetly but with deft syncopation on his acoustic guitar. Cressman’s sylphic, clear soprano sings in harmony or solo, and she switches effortlessly to slide trombone..." Read the full show preview here.