|Guillermo Rozenthiler and Mishka Adams|
Singers MISHKA ADAMS and GUILLERMO ROZENTHULER have worked together in different contexts and have a new project “Amizade,” which has its London launch on Sunday 23rd April. Interview by Sebastian:
LondonJazz News: Your new duo project is called Amizade what does that mean?
Mishka Adams: Amizade means “friendship” in Portuguese.
LJN: What is the repertoire?
MA: Hidden gems as well as reworkings of well known songs from South America, ranging from Brazilian samba and bossa nova, candombe from Uruguay, Cumbia from Colombia, and Argentinian folklore. Guillermo is a wealth of songs and it’s been a joy learning and arranging this music together!
LJN: Guillermo do you have any idea how many songs you have ready to go at any moment?
Guillermo Rozenthuler: I don’t have a precise number, but there are many.. a couple of hundred for sure… We are actually learning some new material for this project- from Colombia and Cuba- which makes me very happy. I respect very much every tradition and sometimes I feel I should forget some songs and go really deep with a few…
LJN: And you have a “family” of guests you also work with?
GR: the family is developing and growing-in more than one sense ( I have now a 4 month old baby!). We also love to work with Andres Ticino on percussion. It’s great to have a family of guests but we are also a self contained duo act.
LJN: And the Sunday 23rd lunchtime Pizza Express gig is a sort of premiere…?
GR: 23 April is a premiere in London in a mainstream venue, and I hope it’ll be the first of many. This material is very rich and there aren’t many people performing it in the UK. We both have a jazz background so it’s fun to look at some songs with a jazz lens harmonically, or to add improvisation. Adriano and Javier are both great improvisers so I m happy that they are on board. We have had some invitations to play it outside London and it’d be ideal for rural touring so we’ll look into it. I’ve never met a vocalist like Mishka who can capture not only the essence and expression of Latin music but also sing it with perfect pronunciation.
LJN: You are on the ideal scale for house concerts right?
MA: We are and it is something we really love to do. In fact the first couple of times we played in duo was in a house concert situation. Singing and playing unamplified to a small attentive audience is a wonderful experience. As we both sing, play nylon guitar and percussion our set up is ideal for them.
Intimacy, detail, and spontaneous storytelling are always part of what we do.
LJN: How/ when did you get to know each other?
MA: We met about 8 years ago, on a project with the London Vocal project – I am a founding member and alto of the group and Guillermo was invited on a large scale project at the Albert Hall with the Merton Music Foundation to sing with us as a featured soloist. So I guess Pete Churchill brought us together! After meeting a few times during rehearsals and at the concert, we discovered a mutual love for Brazilian music and started singing together and became very good friends over the years. I even studied Thai Massage with his partner Kira, and I consider them both to be family. I’ve learned so much from singing with Guillermo, both musically and from who he is as a person, so I hope this is just the beginning of a lifelong project!
LJN: And friendship normally implies you find other topics you agree on things you like in common outside music ?
Both: Absolutely! We also share a love of food and wine, and we are a very good cooking team
LJN: You both have busy lives . Aside from this duo what other projects / things to look forward are there?
Mishka: I sing as an alto with the London Vocal Project – we just came back from a wonderful trip to New York to premiere Miles Ahead, featuring Jon Hendricks’ lyrics, and rescored for vocals by Pete Churchill without whom the project would not exist! We’ll be doing the London premiere at King’s Place on May 21st. I also sing with Pete Churchill in his originals project – we released our first album called Stories to Tell in 2015, full of Pete’s beautiful originals that had lain hidden for many years.
There are many projects bubbling in the pipeline, and I feel very lucky to be able to work with many wonderful musicians in various groups– Adriano Adewale, Luca Boscagin, Pedro Carneiro Silva, and most recently with a classical pianist called Alisdair Hogarth from a group called the Prince Consort – he had the wonderful idea of taking classical repertoire and having a non-classical singer to sing the pieces – they are beautiful and I’ve heard so much music that I would never have come across on my own. We will see how the project unfolds, but there are sure to be gigs coming up in the near future!
Guillermo: Apart from singing with Mishka, I sing regularly with the London Tango Orchestra and have started collaborating with another wonderful vocalist, Georgia Mancio – the band is called Companeros. In terms of teaching, I have two passions at the moment:one is Circlesinging ( think Bobby Mc Ferrin spontaneous compositions for vocal groups) and the other one is community singing for health and wellbeing.
I’m delighted to be gathering and teaching Circlesinging and other forms of collaborative vocal improvisation to a growing community of very talented London and UK vocalists from different traditions ( the sessions are called Circu-lab) , and we’ll be performing live very soon. I ve been invited to teach Circlesinging for the 3rd time at SOAS Summer School and alongside Albert Hera and Roger Treece in Italy this summer. I’ ve also been invited to lead a big open for all Circlesong for the Chorus Festival at the SouthBank centre the morning of July 2. And will be part of this year’s Global Music Foundation London Summer School and Festival in August alongside Bruce Barth, Perico Sambeat and other jazz musicians that I admire.
The singing for well-being projects are multiplying and I now lead two groups of Sing for Better Breathing in South London, and two sessions of singing for Dementia and mental health in North London. I feel very grateful to be part of this development and hope to help pave the way for many more singing for health projects in London and beyond…
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