Jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves has recorded no shortage of Brazilian songs in her career and when looking back at her discography, she realized she had recorded enough music to compile into an entire Brazilian album. This realization led her to assemble Beleza Brazil, a band she fronts dedicated to specifically performing the eponymous country’s music. The band consists of Brazilian players such as guitarist Rombero Lubamo, bassist Itaiguaro Brandao, and drummer Rafael Barata as well as American keyboard player John Beasley. On February 18, Ms. Reeves and her group will hit the stage of the Lobero Theatre for concert fully dedicated to Brazilian songs, further steeping herself in the nation’s music in the lead-up to fulfilling the idea that birthed Beleza Brazil, an entire album of Brazilian music.
In an interview with the News-Press, the singer said that Brazilian music has always been a part of her musical development. As she was first getting into music in the 1970s, the Brazilian musical movement bossa nova had become popular and albums such as 1975’s “Native Dancer,” a collaborative record between jazz musician Wayne Shorter and Brazilian guitarist Milton Nascimento, caused her to fall in love with Brazilian musical traditions. When asked what qualities particularly drew her to the music of Brazil, the singer cited the variety of rhythms and the sophistication of its melodies and harmonies. She added that due to the country’s various cultures, Brazilian music can be approached in a variety of different ways.
Ms. Reeves is widely known for her jazz music and gives everything she sings a jazz flavor, but in her view there are certain similarities between Brazilian music and jazz that make the former a comfortable fit for a jazz musician.
“The beautiful thing about Brazilian music is that it’s steeped in improvisation, just like jazz music, so Brazilian music and jazz musicians is like a perfect marriage,” she said.
Initially, Ms. Reeves learned the Portuguese lyrics to Brazilian songs phonetically, but she’s currently learning the language and now approaches the music with some knowledge of what the lyrics mean. She travels to Brazil often and every time she visits, makes sure she plays with local bands. Although she still has a few accents when she sings that Brazilians can pick out as foreign, Ms. Reeves said she has enough experience with the language and music to satisfy the Brazilian musicians she plays with.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time… I’m very comfortable with the music and the words so they like my interpretations of the songs,” she said.
When asked about her forthcoming album of Brazilian music, Ms. Reeves remained mostly tight-lipped. All she said about it is that it will not be named “Beleza Brazil.” Whatever it ends up being called, Ms. Reeves also said she’s “excited” about the project.
Tickets for Didanne Reeves’ February 18 concert can be purchased online at www.lobero.org. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre, located at 33 E Canon Perdido St.