“Essência is a joyful romp through the musical landscape of the Americas guided by master pianist Otmaro Ruiz and exciting new guitar virtuoso, Bruno Mangueira. Their musical partnership is informed by their Venezuelan and Brazilian heritages fused with their deep love and understanding of American jazz and the European classical tradition.
Otmaro and Bruno flawlessly navigate this landscape with a program of eight original compositions and two standards. Each song feels like a suite, taking us through a wide range of dynamics and emotional territory. Impressively, their original compositions sound like they could be standards. They evoke the timeless feeling of classic songs by Tom Jobim, Hermeto Pascoal, and other Brazilian masters while maintaining the vibrancy of the present. There are hints of Bach, Chopin, and lush harmonic passages that will send music theory students racing for their notepads.
I love the program’s intelligent balance of composition and improvisation. In the Brazilian tradition, one might expect the balance to be weighted toward composition and jazz, toward improvisation. Essência has managed to marry the two in a cohesive and natural way. The song construction is airtight while the performances and improvisations take us for a wild and exciting ride. Neither Otmaro nor Bruno shy away from taking chances. The gorgeous yet sometimes unexpected harmonies are constantly shifting and it takes a skilled improviser to make their way through this treacherous terrain and arrive safely on the other side. Otmaro and Bruno are our able guides.
Duo playing demands an extraordinary level of musicianship. Every note, every gesture is exposed. The musicians must breathe together and have an almost telepathic connection. Each player must fully grasp the entirety of each piece, as their constantly shifting roles require them to alternately supply melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic support for one another. It’s a daring high wire partnership calling for empathy and a deep commitment to the music and to one another. Otmaro and Bruno embody these qualities throughout. Essência celebrates the joy of two master musicians as they explore the essence of their beloved musical traditions in this intimate setting and guide us to new landscapes and possibilities.”
- Russell Ferrante (YellowJackets), August 2019
Henderson, NV (July 6th, 2018) - Blue Canoe Records releases "Animazonia" from Turkish-born world musician Melbreeze. The ninth release from this creative world musician started as a Brazilian jazz effort but culminated into a compilation of authentic Brazilian music fused with world, jazz and dance flavors. Melbreeze's passion for world music and stubbornly authentic recreation of Brazilian palettes make for a truly unique creation that demands a close listen.
Melbreeze is a prolific creator that, in true world music fashion, is hard to define. She seamlessly moves from her Turkish roots to Spanish flamenco to South American dance and does so with some of the best musicians and producers in the world. "Animazonia" is produced by Scott Kinsey and Jimmy Haslip. Kinsey is the keyboardist for Tribal Tech and has contributed to motion picture soundtracks such as Oceans Eleven and Oceans Twelve while Haslip has been nominated for 33 Grammy awards and has won two with jazz fusion superheroes The Yellowjackets as well as his recent Grammy win with fusion master Jeff Lorber. Melbreeze has recorded and performed with Grammy award composer and keyboardist Bill Cunliffe. She also has an ongoing partnership with Latin Grammy winner and flamenco master Javier Limón.
"Animazonia" opens with a modern, hypnotic dance piece "So Nice". Jimmy Haslip lays down a solid, soulful groove as Melbreeze sets the tone for the album with a dreamy, trance-like vocal invitation that cannot be resisted. Midway through the opening track, Larry Koonse brings in jazzy guitar hooks that develop into a solo with a rock and roll intensity. All of these textures come together in a crescendo until Melbreeze brings it all back to her opening theme. Powerful.
The fourth track on "Animazonia", "How Insensitive", shifts gears into more of a hindi-jazz feel with Knand Kumar bringing colorful sitar meanderings while Uday Kumar Nari provides a balanced pulse on the tabla. Scott Kinsey and Melbreeze provide the hypnosis on this tune on trillian bass and vocals respectively. By the time Larry Koonse's floating guitar solo relieves the sitar "How Insensitive" is reaching a pulsating, heated state as Melbreeze describes the memory of an “insensitive” break up.
"Animazonia" is a must listen from world music veteran Melbreeze. As she continues to blend musical sensibilities from disparate cultures, Melbreeze continues to warm the listener's heart. Melbreeze is a premier example of an elite artist's potential to demonstrate cultural unity and inclusion through art and magical melody.