This page is a log of all the reviews that were made about my project The Brazil You Never Heard. Most of these are reviews of our first EP, Behind Jobim, and a couple are concert write ups.
Here is a quick list with links, to read the full reviews just keep scrolling down...
*Christopher Loudon's review for Jazz Times Magazine
*Tom Schnabel Rhythm Planet new releases list at kcrw.com
*Gary Fukushima for LA Weekly
* Jack Goodstein review for Seattlepi.com
*Feature at Jazzchill.com
*Brent Black review for critical jazz
*Interview with Carol Banks Weber at axs.com
*Carol Banks Weber review for axs.com
*LeRoy Downs concert review for TheJazzCat.net
True to the adage of little acorns and mighty oaks, this six-track EP seeds a massively ambitious project by Marcel Camargo. To date, the São Paulo-born guitarist, who holds a degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA, has been best known as a sideman to the likes of Michael Bublé, Sergio Mendes and Gretchen Parlato. Now, as leader of what will be an evolving chamber orchestra assembled under the Brazil You Never Heard moniker, Camargo is spearheading a series of concerts and companion studio sessions intended to provide unique perspectives on Brazilian music.
To salute Antonio Carlos Jobim, Camargo focuses less on Jobim’s compositions than on music that was influential to the maestro. The 20-member orchestra, including Parlato on three tracks, opens with a lithe treatment of legendary guitarist Garoto’s “Lamentos do Morro” which, Camargo theorizes in the liner notes, might have inspired Jobim’s “Samba do Avião.” Pixinguinha’s shimmering “Lamento” follows. Often cited (much to the composer’s chagrin) as the first Americanized Brazilian tune, it points to Jobim’s pivotal role in the globalization of the music in the 1960s.
Camargo employs Parlato’s fragile aridity to optimal advantage on Jobim’s early “Imagina” and his wider-known “How Insensitive” (paired with Chopin’s “Prelude No. 4 in E Minor,” on which it was based). Alone with Camargo, she also shapes a stunningly urgent “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” inspired not by Jobim’s association with Sinatra but by a 1956 reading by Chet Baker, a seminal figure, says Camargo, to Jobim and his Brazilian contemporaries.
An unusual album follows by Marcel Camargo and The Brazil You Never Heard in their first EP, Behind Jobim. Jobim studied with classical composers and knew the classics well, and this album reflects that: the cut we'll hear is an amalgam of Chopin--a prelude--and Jobim's song, "Insensatez" ("How Insensitive"). It features Gretchen Parlato, who sounds very ethereal on this cut.
Here's a concert write up by Gary Fukushima for LA Weekly
Even if you've never heard of Marcel Camargo, you've probably already heard Marcel Camargo, in the form of his guitar playing behind names you should also have heard of -- Michael Buble, Sergio Mendes, Flying Lotus, Macy Gray, and others. Camargo's current solo project is called The Brazil You Never Heard and features artful, Brazilian-influenced arrangements of pop and jazz, from Jobim to Stevie Wonder. This particular show features strings and the seductive voice of Jessica Jeza Vautor, as Camargo explores French songs á la Brazil. As he pulls this music out of obscurity, Camargo might need to rename it The Brazil You Want To Hear More Of.
Sat., Nov. 22, 9 p.m., 2014
Behind Jobim is a five-track EP from guitarist Marcel Camargo, who leads a large ensemble complete with strings, winds and brass. He calls it The Brazil You Never Heard, and it features vocalist Gretchen Parlato. This release is the first in what is intended as an ongoing series aimed at celebrating music from around the world through a Brazilian lens, as focused by Camargo's arrangements. The project highlights the connections between the music defined as Brazilian and its many varied influences.
When you think of Brazilian music, the one name that most readily comes to mind is Antonio Carlos Jobim. So what better place to start than with his music and the voices that impacted his work.
The EP opens with two influential pieces by major Brazilian voices: "Lamentos do Morro," a solo guitar composition orchestrated for the larger ensemble and "Lamento," a modernization of the classic Choro. As the liner notes explain, Camargo uses a string quartet arrangement of Frederic Chopin's Prelude No. 4 in E Minor as an introduction to Jobim's "Insensatez," which was "clearly based" on it. Indeed, Carmago say he thought it would be "fun" to listen to them together, and with Parlato doing the "Insensatez" vocal, not only is it fun, it is instructive as well.
The Julie Styne-Sammy Cahn classic "I Fall in Love Too Easily" is included because of Jobim's love of jazz. As to why Camargo chose this particular tune as opposed to any one of hundreds of others, he explains that it was included on Chet Baker Sings, an album very influential on the bossa nova crowd. Here it is treated as a duet between Parlato's voice and Camargo's guitar. He also joins her for a vocal duet on the EP's final piece "Imagina," thought to be Jobim's earliest work.
Behind Jobim is an EP based on a truly interesting concept. It showcases some top flight musical talent working on intriguing arrangements of material not always front and center on a typical jazz release. If it has a flaw, five tracks merely whet the appetite. Less, in this case, is certainly not more. Indeed it is not nearly enough.
Leave it to a sideman to come up with an interesting angle on Brazilian music. But Marcel Camargo is no run-of-the-mill sideman. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, born to a musical family, Camargo jumped into music early on guitar, percussion, and vocals, performing with his uncle, and then continuing the trend with studies in the States. Camargo didn’t waste any time absorbing as much of the world’s music as he could, expanding his Brazilian origins into folk, jazz, and even Ghanaian music under master drummer Kobla Ladzekpo.
When he’s not gigging in and around L.A., backing his bread-and-butter—Michael Bublé, Camargo’s hard at work on his labor of love, an ongoing concert and recording series devoted to The Brazil You Never Heard. His first studio recording focuses on one of the most famous Brazilian jazz artists of his time, Antônio “Tom” Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim.
Behind Jobim, featuring award-winning vocalist Gretchen Parlato, is more than an EP of covers. It’s an EP where Camargo asks what would Jobim sound like if he were paired up with the classical and Brazilian composers that most influenced him? Camargo combines the pieces of classical masters Debussy, and Chopin, with Jobim’s Brazilian predecessors, Villa Lobos, Pixinguinha, Garoto, and Radamés Gnattali.
The first record in an ongoing series drops July 15, with a CD release party the same day, 7 p.m., at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall. Marcel Camargo went into a little more depth about his project in a June 21 interview.
AXS: Your ongoing series, The Brazil You Never Heard, sounds very involved, ambitious and complex. What started this inspiration in the first place, any one moment?
Marcel Camargo: I think the series came out of a need to do something deeper and more real with Brazilian music — and music in general. This need was, for me, multi-faceted; I have always yearned to hear people playing music that is significant for their culture, so I decided to do that for my culture (of Brazil). I also wanted to get away from playing the things that are “established,” because they are too safe and overplayed and because they end up hijacking the spotlight, and other great music becomes obscured. I guess those things explain the name, The Brazil You Never Heard. I also had a need for a platform that allowed me to do a variety of things (play guitar, arrange, write, sing, be creative with every step of the process, etc.). I wouldn’t say there was one moment that brought this about; it's more of a culmination of different experiences in which I felt those things were missing in music.
AXS: For the first studio recording in the ongoing concert series, you look at Jobim. What made you go with him first? Had you been performing concerts featuring his music and your orchestral concepts before the recording happened? Did the concerts inform what would go into the recording?
MC: Absolutely, of the first few concerts I put together, the Behind Jobim night (reflected on the record) really stood out. Both as a beautiful sound with the strings and horns, and as the night that gave me the most room as an arranger. More importantly, the music we played that night was immediately recognizable as the sound of this group. I also think this concert was the most musically complete. Maybe because Jobim’s music is very complete? ... Everything in it is interesting: melodies, rhythm, harmony, orchestration, timbres, etc.
AXS: How did you decide who would be on this first studio recording, was Gretchen Parlato attached to the project from the beginning? Why her in particular; what about her vocal style attracted you for a Jobim treatment?
MC: Gretchen and everyone else that plays on the record had already played this music live, so it made sense to ask them if they would be a part of the studio version of the project. Luckily they all said yes! I decided to go with Gretchen for Jobim’s night, because she sings very much like an instrumentalist and Jobim’s music, even his songs, are conceptualized from an instrumentalist’s standpoint. In other words, his melodies are not very easy to sing, they’re more like something you’d hear an instrument play...but Gretchen already sings like an instrument, so I thought that combination would work. And I knew Gretchen loves Jobim and would be interested in this idea...
AXS: Combining Jobim’s loves with his works was of particular genius. Most would’ve gone for the tradition covers route. But you infused a lush classical touch from composers that were his favorites into his compositions. What track off Behind Jobim was your biggest accomplishment and why?
MC: Oh jeez...well first off thanks!! “What track was my biggest accomplishment?”... I don’t really know how to answer that... The prelude going into “Insensatez” is no doubt the most involved of the arrangements. But I rather like them all (of course!). I think each track accomplished something good. “Insensatez” and “Imagina” were the most classically influenced ones, and that’s a beautiful sound to be able to play with — the strings!! Love the strings...
AXS: Including vocals with classical music takes extra consideration. You could’ve easily gone completely instrumental. How did you approach the vocals differently to meld with the classical-Jobim theme?
MC: For sure, vocals and classical music can be really tricky to marry if you’re not using operatic voices. In a way, Jobim went through a similar struggle, because he was both a composer and a songwriter, and those are also very hard things to put together. Although Gretchen is not a classical singer, she does approach singing with the instrumentalist’s mind — in the same way that classical singers do — and she has the skill and the sensitivity to keep up with all the demands of Jobim’s writing. So I think having her on board helped a lot in this quest.
AXS: What’s the next project in this series?
MC: Well, we are already finishing up the second EP and we would like to put that out without too much of a wait. The second one is going to explore the cross influences between Brazilian and North American music — the influence of funk and pop in Brazil (Djavan, Caetano Veloso, Ed Motta) and of samba on someone like Stevie Wonder.
We're also getting some more positive reviews, here is one by Brent Black for CriticalJazz.com:
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Perhaps the most refreshing look at some of the greatest music the world has ever known.
First things first, who is Marcel Camargo? Michael Buble, Sergio Mendes, and Gretchen Parlato have all utilized the amazing services of Marcel Camargo. Now moving out on his own, Camargo is now able to have audiences focus on his multi-dimensional talents as guitarist, vocalist and composer. The debut release of The Brasil You Never Heard Behind Jobim is an almost scholarly look at the music of the great Antonio Carlos Jobim and the possibilities that can still be found within these textured melodies and deceptively subtle nuanced flavor of the Brazilian master. Behind Jobim answers the musical question, "What if?"
The ingenious hook with this release is that Camargo also sought to find that harmonic tie in to some of the major influences of Antonio Carlos Jobim. One of the highlights on this first in a series of EPs is the duet "I Fall In Love Too Easily" with Gretchen Parlato and Camargo on guitar. Intimate, elegant and amazingly sophisticated. "Lamento" makes exquisite use of a Choro written by the great Pixinguinha, contemporary by most standards but losing nothing in authenticity.
Brazilian music in general and the music of Jobim is often unfairly stereotyped. The styles of music in Brazil are as varied as the regions and Jobim's influences included classical, Brazilian popular and folk as well as the improvisational music of North America. Marcel Camargo has the innate ability and vision to take music that would be considered eclectic by many and forge a cohesive contemporary mosaic of sound that pays tribute not only to the great Jobim but the various cultures this music represents.
There is nothing predictable here, this auspicious release should be a welcome addition to any library of music.
Here is the first review of our record, very positive, thanks Carol!
Carol Banks Weber / www.axs.com
Behind Jobim is Marcel Camargo’s first real look into the music of this profound Brazilian artist. The first of a series of planned EPs, the São Paulo, Brazilian/L.A.-based, star-crossed sideman explores the music of Antônio “Tom” Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim indirectly, through the influences of the classical and Brazilian composers.
“When I put together the repertoire, I designed it to mostly feature music that I knew was influential to Jobim,” Camargo explained. “When I did include his compositions in the set, the idea was to tie those to other pieces by composers that were his heroes.” To that end, Camargo references Jobim’s favorite classical composers — Debussy, Chopin, and Villa Lobos, and the Brazilian predecessors — Pixinguinha, Garoto, and Radamés Gnattali.
Camargo enriches Jobim’s sensual appeal with the addition of Gretchen Parlato on unforgettable vocals. Remembering that Jobim’s most memorable Brazilian classic of the ‘60s, “Girl From Ipanema,” Carmargo made sure to include the sultry but breezy feminine touch in the first of an ongoing series of live concerts and companion studio recordings called, The Brazil You Never Heard.
Against the background of a lush chamber orchestra, Camargo set about rearranging and reimagining what Jobim would’ve loved. Behind Jobim, set to drop July 15, 2014, with a short, but sweet premiere at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall, does Jobim right.
The classical music and the romanticism of a Jobim drama go well together in the third track of this debut EP. Camargo seamlessly marries Chopin’s “Prelude No. 4 In E Minor (Opus 28)” with Jobim’s lyrically elusive “How Insensitive.” By the time Parlato slips into, “Insensatez,” after a deliciously tortuous string-enhanced introduction, it’s all but over. Parlato takes each thought desperately to heart, barely able to grasp the chasm of the words, dropping them in haste as emotion consumes her. Interspersing a string quartet and Camargo’s own stringed echo reinforced the singer’s agony.
The team of Parlato and Camargo can’t be denied. Let’s face it; her vocals give lustrous shape and a womanly voice to the beautiful concertos.
Camargo accompanies Parlato in the fetching “I Fall In Love Too Easily.” It’s a disjointed combination — in his string-endorsed skips and jumps, and her trying to catch up with that slow, breathless grasp — that somehow holds sway. Two varying degrees of rhythm, just these two, meeting up in a strange convergence. “We thought this was a nice contrast to the other tunes because of the sparse instrumentation and the improvised interpretation of the composition, whereas the other pieces on this record are very planned out and arranged,” described Camargo.
No stranger to Carmargo’s strange but wonderful ways, Parlato was thrilled to be a part of his elaborate project. “Marcel Camargo is one of my favorite musicians, I love singing with him. He beautifully honors the classic sound we all adore in Brazilian music, but also allows his own voice to shine through...he’s doing something very special and necessary with this project,” Parlato remarked.
The last song on the EP is quite magical. Jobim wrote “Imagina” in 1947, as a homework assignment for solo piano. Carmargo conveys the same groundswell of a reverie with his and Parlato’s entwined vocals and an imaginative string quartet. If Disney kissed Jobim square on the lips…
Pixinguinha first released the Choro, “Lamento,” in 1928. Carmargo takes it further in a modern state of melody and rhythm, as perhaps Jobim would’ve enjoyed. Carmargo cuts through the fantastic bliss, startling the trance-like effect with authoritative reeds and horns. “We loved this piece and we think Jobim loved it too,” Camargo mused. “I thought I’d twist this Choro even further with some different harmonies and rhythms that, while still referencing the older style, make the tune seem modern.” He manages to scatter the harmonies and rhythms to the four winds before gathering them back home for a dramatic flourish.
Marcel Camargo plays sideman very well to Brazilian, pop, and jazz musicians such as Michael Bublé, Sérgio Mendes, Talib Kweli, Flying Lotus, Bebel Gilberto, and Macy Gray. His “Brazil You Never Heard” is off to a stunning start. Get ready for more.
Here's our first write up from LeRoy Downs about our second live show at The Virgil in LA:
Sensibilities. The more life continues to take its turns for better or worse, it is the subtle things that we hold dear to life. Music, art, flowers, and gentle breezes can all be so easily over looked. But art is life, and when young creative musicians come together to accomplish their works of art with excitement and humility, the end result is a gift, a new vibration that now exists.
Marcel Camargo has assembled a cast of wonderful musicians to break the stereotype of sound and amass a new creation that features French horn, trombone, flute, clarinet, cello, a rhythm section, a string quartet and of course lovely guitar. The evening was inspired by the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Marcel has arranged all of the tunes, selecting not the Jobim standards but other interesting compositions to get “B-side”. Marcel has written his own music, fragranced with the scent of Brazil and invited long time friend and beautiful golden child of the jazz world Gretchen Parlato to blow beauty over strings and captivate hearts. As they and resolve to silence, sand and ocean breezes turn right back into a tiny stage at the Virgil packed with talent and a bar full of audience applause and appreciation!
This was night two of a three part series put on by Marcel. Different music each night displays the virtuosity and vast possibilities of what can happen when love comes together to play music. Yes, love brings these beautiful musicians together, a wealth of it along with knowledge, appreciation and respect for each other’s talents. The result is a gift for your listening pleasure. Please realize that the end result of all musical endeavors is to bring a bit of joy to your lives.
You still have an opportunity to feel the music! The third and final episode is waiting for you! Oct. 24th, “Music of The Past and the Future,” pre-WWII music and modern nostalgia, featuring Jessica Vautor, and Marcel Camargo’s record release.
Don’t slip or you will miss the “Brazil You Never Heard”!