Taken from the liner notes of Jazz Samba Project - by Ken Avis, Veronneau guitarist.
Veronneau’s Jazz Samba Project was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the recording of the legendary 'Jazz Samba' album, DC, in our own backyard. Though Lynn Veronneau is French Canadian and I’m from the UK, the soft pulse and gentle vocal sounds of bossa nova have long been favorites of ours. Our drummer, Pete Walby, grew up in California grooving to the sound of Jazz Samba on his parent’s reel-to-reel tape deck. Veronneau guitarist, David Rosenblatt, has immersed himself in Brazilian jazz since his early years living in Rio, where he returned to study music in his 20’s.
Veronneau’s first album, Joie de Vivre – Joy of Living, presented a broad range of the world jazz tunes we loved, including songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Ary Barroso. With our acoustic nylon string guitars, vocals and percussion, our band was fertile ground for the enticing sounds of bossa nova. When band mate Pete Walby suggested the idea of the Jazz Samba Project, the fit was clear.
Our fascination grew as we plunged into a year of exploration, looking into the history and impact of Jazz Samba. We were fortunate to speak at length with two of the original musicians, Buddy Deppenschmidt and the late Joe Byrd, as we prepared to record this CD with some wonderful guest musicians and collaborators. Veronneau’s Jazz Samba Project is a labor of love and pays homage to the 1962 classic. We hope our album brings even more converts to the music and delights those already acquainted with this wonderful music.
Our aim was to first explore the world of bossa nova with Jazz Samba as the starting point. We would also include classics from subsequent years; and, finally, give our own bossa treatments to some contemporary tunes. There were so many songs we could have chosen. These are the ones that captivated us.
From the Jazz Samba album, “E Luxo Só” was written by Ary Barroso, who composed the famous song “Brazil.” It’s the one true samba on the album and features the band with our three guest muicians: Brazilian percussionist Alejandro Lucini, Canadian saxophonist Jeff Antoniuk and American trombonist Jim McFalls. The title is roughly translated as “So Luxurious” and it tells of the hypnotic, seductive dance of a beautiful woman. Lynn sings in Portuguese and her dreamy vocals are set against a background of intertwined horns and layered percussion.
In choosing our contemporary tracks, the Bob Marley reggae classic, “Waiting in Vain,” was an obvious choice. This arrangement has been a favorite with our concert audiences and the mix of musical genres reflects the band’s international make up and highlights our cross-cultural approach. We added delay to the backing vocals for that Jamaican dub-reggae touch.
As with our previous album, we were delighted to include a composition by David Rosenblatt. “September Moon” tells the tale of unexpected romance in life’s later years - a classically melancholy bossa nova theme. The song underscores David’s melodic and harmonic sense and his solo displays his inventiveness and warm tone. Walby adds easy brush strokes and Lucini takes up congas.
“Mas Que Nada” was a hit for Jorge Ben, and later for Sergio Mendes, two musicians who continued to carry the Brazilian music flag beyond the bossa years, modernizing the sound to compete with the Beatles inspired pop of the 60’s.You can almost hear Lynn dancing around the room as she sang this song in the studio. McFalls and Rosenblatt contributed spirited solos and rhythm and lead guitars wove together to great effect. Note the rhythmic accents on the cuíca - the familiar percussion sound of Carnival - on this playful tune.
“Meditation” is a haunting Jobim classic. The song was not originally planned for the album, but it seduced us as bossa nova can! Lucini’s percussion includes the organic sounds of the udu drum, deep and expressive beneath the longing vocal. The muted trombone adds a languid flavor to this bossa, creating a sense of space, softly sad and distant. Walby frames the tune with a tight and gentle backbeat.
“One Note Samba’ was one of the best-known Jobim compositions featured on Jazz Samba. The clever word play is indicative of his melodic and lyrical genius. Lynn Veronneau’s interpretation is playful and good humored as she negotiates the tricky twists and turns of the wordy tune. Antoniuk’s masterful saxophone solo raises the energy up a notch and adds the element of surprise.
Written by legendary Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, “Samba Saravah” appeared in the French movie A Man and a Woman in 1966. It’s a beautiful, simple piece featuring just voice, guitars and percussion with my brief guitar accents and short solo phrases. Lynn’s singing of the French lyrics are dreamy and the repeating chords are like waves washing over a beach, inviting you to kick off your shoes and put your toes in the warm sand.
Powell’s instrumental “Samba Triste” provides the opportunity to feature sax and guitar. The pace picks up after the initial rubato section from the guitars, moving into the sax/guitar/percussion approach, which was so effective on Jazz Samba. Antoniuk’s unencumbered sax boasts a deep feel for Getz’ work and brings in a fresh new energy, before yielding to David’s funky improvisation.
“Autumn Leaves” was written in 1945 as “Les Feuilles Mortes.” The tune was adopted by American Johnny Mercer, who added the English lyric. The song became a massive hit and remains a jazz classic. Lynn’s a cappella opening sounds a melancholy call hinting at the song’s theme of loneliness and inevitable loss, before moving into a bossa nova groove. Here, Lynn presents the song in English and French.
Jobim first recorded “Wave” as an instrumental in 1967. When Sinatra suggested they perform it together on their 1969 collaboration, “Antonio Carlos Jobim and Francis Albert Sinatra,” Jobim didn’t hesitate to write a lyric. Lynn Veronneau’s vocals are luscious. Alejandro Lucini brings traditional Brazilian instruments to this track. The deep surdo drum with pandeiro and shakers take us back to the folk music source of bossa nova – a fitting end to the Jazz Samba Project.