Discover more from Wild Mercury Rhythm
Claudia Villela - Carta Ao Vento
(Taina Music, 2023)
Carta Ao Avento (Letters To The Wind) marks Rio De Janeiro native Claudia Villela’s first time recording in Brazil. The occasion presents itself as a glancing blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Villela had lived in the San Francisco Bay area since the 1980s where she established herself as a significant American and Brazilian jazz figure. When the pandemic emerged, she took the opportunity to travel home for several weeks to visit her family. While home, Villela caught up with some old running buddies and this recording resulted.
After settling in at home, Villela looked up friends from her youth, including drummer Marcelo Costa, bassist Jorge Helder, arranger Mario Adnet, and a taste of Brazil’s greatest players: guitarists Toninho Horta and Romero Lubambo, multi-reedists Edu Neves and Zé Nogueira, and accordionist Vitor Gonçalves. A capable pianist and percussionist, Villela filled these roles in addition to her main contribution, that of her impressive vocal and composition skills.
Carta Ao Avento not only frames Villela’s vocal abilities but her compositional ones also. Villela is quick to point out that Carta Ao Avento “...his is not a jazz album.” Her intention was to focus on the song: the craft of songwriting and singing. Villela’s singing includes not only presenting and interpreting lyrics but also, songs and melodies without words, an impressive example being the wordless vocal break heard in “Meninando” and “Agua Santa.”
In addition to Villela composing the lyrics for six of the pieces, the singer/composer sets poetry by Celia Malheiros, Ana Cristina Cesar, Mário Quintana, and Ramon Palomares to her elaborate melodies with significant effect. Cesar’s “Flores do Mais” evolves from a quiet ballad to a smoldering anthem, featuring Villela’s piano and Zé Nogueira’s serpentine soprano saxophone. A doomed figure like that of Sylvia Plath, Cesar writes, “...devagar imponha o pulso que melhor souber sangrar sobre a faca das marés” (“...lowly impose the wrist what better know how to bleed about the knife of the tides) and Villela gently catches the thrown phrase translating it into a humid view of desire in the ruins.
As with all other Villela releases, this one is about that voice, that near-perfect instrument dizzyingly employed in extracting the tender marrow of her fertile and conflicted homeland. This is not a jazz album, but a world one, both bigger than and equal to the beautiful Brazil from which it comes.