Brazil’s best kept secret (until now!), Luiz Millan delivers a passionate musical message through Brazilian Match, his fifth solo album and the first one destined to reach a global audience.
Produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro for the LA-based label Jazz Station Records (JSR) and arranged by Michel Freidenson, Brazilian Match features an unbelievable all-star cast: multi-Grammy winners David Sanborn, Randy Brecker and Mark Egan are among the main soloists, along with The New York Voices, Eddie Daniels, Mike Mainieri, Ada Rovatti, John Tropea, Barry Finnerty, Danny Gottlieb, Josh Marcum, singers Ellen Johnson, Alice Soyer, Lisa Ono, Clémentine and Gianna Viscardi, plus two dozens of Brazil’s greatest players.
Millan’s music is an oasis in a noisy and turbulent world. He follows the tradition of such Brazilian musical heroes as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, João Gilberto, Ivan Lins, Marcos Valle, Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque, but is his own man and moves a step forward in the evolution of Brazilian popular music, updating and adding new colors to the bossa nova genre, redefining its expressive potential.
According to jazz historian Douglas Payne, Luiz Millan is “Brazil’s most remarkable contemporary singer-songwriter, a unique master of melody and lyrical form. ‘Brazilian Match’ should prove to be his breakout moment!” Born in São Paulo, Millan studied classical piano and popular acoustic guitar as a teenager. He also graduated as a doctor in 1982, specializing in Psychiatry. Millan has composed film scores, written songs for other Brazilian singers, recorded four albums as a leader, and one DVD.
“A composer’s composer, Millan is a multi-dimensional artist,” says producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro, who has worked extensively with Jobim, Gilberto, Bonfá, Eumir Deodato, Dom Um Romão, Ithamara Koorax and João Donato. “A great melodist who also happens to be a great poet, a fabulous storyteller; a painter of wonderful sonic landscapes. He deals with the notes like a painter deals with palettes and colors. The most beautiful images and feelings flow beneath his songs.”
The producer then set about calling his “superfriends,” to give to Millan’s songwriting art the proper frame—a much deserved jazz colour that could match his Brazilian soul and make justice to the level of his tremendous body of work, creating an album that would give him international exposure. If you are able to work with the best musicians on the planet, why not?”
The starry cast invited to Millan’s party shines throughout. Six-time Grammy winner David Sanborn, the most iconic and influential alto sax stylist of his generation, showcases his expressiviness on “In The Grove of The Jacarandas.” He plays a poetic solo and also “sings” the bridge in unison with Mark Egan’s unique fretless bass, adorning Ellen Johnson’s vocals in a lilting bossa-jazz mood. “It’s been a joy to sing to this track and has lifted my spirits, so I can imagine what it will do for people when they hear it as well,” says the LA-based singer.
Another multi-Grammy winning artist (seven awards plus 20 nominations!), trumpeter Randy Brecker contributes with outstanding solos on “Andar Descalço” and “Morungaba,” flying over two diferente styles of samba grooves. Two lessons in dynamics, highly advanced phrasing and perfect articulation. The latest chapter on Brecker’s intimate connection with Brazilian music that started exactly 50 years ago, on the famous “Donato/Deodato” album in 1973.
“Full Moon” (“Lua Cheia”), a truly haunting song, appears on two different renditions. The fabulous New York Voices performs the English version, with lyrics by Peter Eldridge, while Millan himself and the co-composer Jorge Pinheiro sing the original Brazilian lyrics with the support of ace guitarist Barry Finnerty, a former collaborator of Miles Davis, The Crusaders and The Brecker Brothers. Two other legendary musicians who have played together for over 40 years, bassist Mark Egan (Pat Metheny Group, Stan Getz, Gil Evans, Sting) and drummer Danny Gottlieb (Metheny, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin) add a special flavour to both versions.
On the gorgeous ballad “Madrugada,” co-written by Millan and Michel Freidenson, producer DeSouteiro had the idea to intertwine the talents of clarinet virtuoso Eddie Daniels, the ultimate vibraphone master Mike Mainieri (Steps Ahead, George Benson, Paul McCartney, Dire Straits), and Josh Marcum’s fascinating arco bass lines. Crystal-clear impressionistic beauty.
“Pacuiba,” the delightful and joyful album opener, features the classy guitar style of John Tropea (famous for his collaborations with Deodato, Lalo Schifrin, Paul Simon, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Claus Ogerman) evoking memories of Wes Montgomery.
Ada Rovatti, the superb Italian tenorist, shines with a passionate Coltrane-esque solo on the sparkling latin-jazz gem “Quem Sabe,” propelled by the fiery percussive arsenal of Chico Batera (Sergio Mendes, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Cat Stevens, The Doors).
Edu Ribeiro, a founding member of the Grammy-winning Trio Corrente, contributes with a dazzling brushwork reminiscent of great Brazilian drummers like João Palma and Helcio Milito, most notably on the whimsical “Sopro de Esperança.”
Alice Soyer shines as a tremendously gifted singer/lyricist on “Still Looking At The Moon,” a bright and beautifully articulated synthesis of pop, r&b and jazz elements, enhanced by an hypnotic groove. Another versatile singer, Giana Viscardi, sings together with Millan himself the original Portuguese lyrics on the track properly retitled “Farrapos de Lua.” But both lyrics tell the same story: the saga of thousands of poor children that live in the streets of major Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Clémentine, the best French jazz & bossa singer who has sold over four million records, adds her subtle and seductive French charm to “Montparnasse” and “Morungaba,” both with French lyrics by Marilia Millan.
Lisa Ono, Japan’s national treasure, floats with her warm voice on the Portuguese version of “Morungaba,” a seductive and gently grooving samba that is one of Millan’s most pleasant offerings.
Another standout cuts include “Que Os Ventos Limpem Os Tempos,” “Ecos da Juventude” and “Século XXI,” the latter featuring the harmonica work of Humberto Clayber (Sambalanço Trio, Sambrasa Trio, Cesar Camargo Mariano).
“Working with two geniuses like Arnaldo DeSouteiro and Michel Freidenson was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Luiz Millan states. “In addition to my usual partners, whom I love, we’ve been super-charged by these outstanding musicians from across the musical spectrum. I am so grateful to everyone.”
Throughout Brazilian Match, Luiz Millan has fashioned a nuanced, subtle, elegant, richly textured and highly cinematic songwriting style that transcends musical boundaries with a mesmerizing inventiveness, appealling to jazz, bossa, pop and adult audiences. He really establishes a new, exciting and accessible bond between jazz and Brazilian music, reaching the most rewarding results of that fusion. On Millan’s hands, music really defies categorization and becomes an universal language.
If you like Jobim, Bonfá and João Gilberto, you’ll love Luiz Millan’s music. That’s the real Brazilian Match!
Visit Luiz Millan’s website at www.luizmillan.com