The genre-bending debut ‘Caminhos Cruzados’ by a thrilling new vocalist Masha Campagne has all the wonder of a magical discovery and excitement of artistic accomplishment. From classics of Cole Porter and Jobim to modern standards of Guinga and pop ballads of Djavan, Campagne dazzles with her contagious, sophisticated style, great imagination and truly unique artistry.
Born and raised in Moscow, Russia Campagne was immersed in Classical European tradition while studying cello and piano at the renowned Gnessin State Musical College. Diverse ethnic, cultural and creative atmosphere in Moscow during her ripening years inspired her to learn to play guitar and sing. Those early repertoire choices were Russian folk songs and City romances by Vertinsky, Okudjava and Makarevich.
Campagne’s musical family provided nurturing ground for her studies and encouraged an adventurous spirit by introducing diverse styles of music. At home she first heard LP records of Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, and Miles Davis and the vocal stylings of Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Carmen McCrae. “My grandfather, the greatest inspiration and a multi-reed player, introduced me to the world of Jazz. Playing nightly with his 25-piece band at the Moscow landmark ‘Metropol’ restaurant he would often bring me along to his gigs. The spontaneity and swinging energy of the music abducted my heart . . .” Campagne recalls.
While in high school Campagne discovered Brazilian Jazz. Those early influences were João Gilberto, Tom Jobim and Elis Regina. In Campagne’s words “Brazilian Jazz with its sophisticated harmonies, subtle dynamics and unaffected vocals were a major inspiration”.
In 1991, Campagne relocated to San Francisco, with its rich and varied musical heritage. She was soon fully immersed in the Jazz scene by joining the Foothill College Jazz vocal group ‘Fanfares’ which won first prize in 1995 Down Beat’s vocal Jazz competition.
In 2000, already a veteran performer Campagne stepped into the local San Francisco Brazilian music scene by teaming up with British guitarist Simon Butler to co-found the duo entitled “Cantando um Samba.” This collaboration resulted in a self-titled EP, which featured compositions by Tom Jobim, Tonhinho Horta and Joyce. The success of this release garnered extensive performance engagements at top San Francisco venues like Butterfly, Café do Brasil, Bubble Lounge and others.
Campagne’s passion for Brazilian music fully blossomed with her 2007 national debut release ‘Caminhos Cruzados’. A talented, intuitive musician she widely collaborates with Weber Iago, a brilliant Rio de Janeiro-raised pianist/arranger.
The record also features impressive cast of musicians such as Harvey Wainapel, David Belove, Carlos Oliveira, Paul van Wageningen and Michael Spiro.
The album transcends traditional musical boundaries where Brazilian and American Jazz references freely intermingle with the sensibility of Classical music in an evocative and sonant approach. With a surprising array of grooves created by Iago’s beautifully crafted, texturally and melodically rich arrangements, the album perfectly captures the seductive power of Campagne’s sumptuous voice.
Iago conveys his genius for writing for strings on two pieces by Guinga, weaving a supple fabric of colors for Campagne to inlay vocal stylings with fluidity and emotion. The lighthearted version of “Doralice,” displays Campagne’s buoyant and sensitive interpretative qualities on this classic cut previously recorded by Stan Getz and João Gilberto on their landmark bossa nova session.
Swinging effortlessly Campagne delivers the classic Jazz standard “It Might As Well Be Spring,” with a hip demeanor and sparkling excitement. This heated number truly becomes an inspiration cut also featuring an ambient tenor solo by the reed master Harvey Wainapel.
Campagne shines the brightest on a series of medleys, the first of which weaves together three masterpieces by Jobim. The second medley opens the album, combining a soaring, Jazz-steeped melody by Djavan with a luxuriant Iago composition featuring the percussion tandem of Paul van Wageningen and Michael Spiro. The album closes with an intimate duet between Campagne and Iago on another captivating Djavan melody.
Collaboration between two brilliantly inspired artists adds up to an offering with depth, poise, complexities and beauty. In Campagne’s words “Caminhos Cruzados is my sacramental love confession to the Brazilian music.” In Iago’s words “Masha Campagne is from Russia, but definitely Brazilian at heart…what a delight it has been to get to know her and her musicianship. I'm already thinking about the next one!”