Australian singer and songwriter KAREN LANE is about to release her sixth studio album, Passarim, a varied showcase of her passion for Brazilian music. Featuring well-known tunes alongside some exciting interpretations of rarer songs, Karen’s re-imagining of this repertoire has resulted in a vibrant and creative sound. The album will be released on 33 Records on 28 April, with a London launch gig at 606 on 8 May. Interview by Leah Williams:
LondonJazz News: This is your sixth album, and the first concentrating on Brazilian music. Why now?
Karen Lane: I’ve always loved Brazilian music and over the last ten years or so I’ve been discovering more of the repertoire and practising my Portuguese pronunciation! The last couple of years, I’ve been performing it a lot more as part of my live set and it just felt like the right time to really delve deeper into it and explore my love for this music on an album.
LJN: How have you found singing in Portuguese?
KL: Varied! It depends on the song, and the tempo of course. Some of them came more naturally than others. I’m really pleased with how it turned out though. Obviously you’re never going to sound like a native speaker but, when we did two nights at Ronnie Scott’s recently supporting Deodato, several of the Brazilian audience members complimented me on my Portuguese, which was great to hear!
LJN: How did you decide which numbers to include on the album?
KL: It wasn’t easy actually – there’s so much incredible Brazilian jazz! I wanted it to be a varied album with some classic tracks such as Jobim’s Amor Em Paz (Once I Loved) and Marcos Valle’s Samba de Verao (So Nice), which I have wanted to record for many years, as well as some rarer tunes. My aim was for the album to be something people could put on and feel comfortable with but also to deliver a few little surprises!
LJN: Is the title track, Passarim, one of these ‘surprises’?
KL: Well it’s actually a Jobim song but it doesn’t seem to be very well known. Andrea [who plays drums on the album] has loads of vinyl and kept discovering these great lesser-known tracks. I was immediately taken with Passarim however I did think it could be quite complicated to translate his orchestral arrangement to our band set up. I spent a long time at the piano, re- arranging it and making it work for us. I thought it best to strip back the choral voice section into something more simple and wrote some arco lines for the bass to play, coupled with flute harmonies which Gareth Lockrane took care of so beautifully. I decided to link the sections with a nice pedal idea which then launches into Graham Harvey’s fantastic piano solo.
It was definitely a challenge but so worth it in the end. That’s why I made it the title track really. That and the fact I just love the lyrics. On the surface, they seem quite literal as Jobim wrote it about the destruction of the rainforest, but they can really be interpreted on so many different metaphorical levels.
LJN: You’ve got a few Jobim tracks on the album; has he been one of your biggest inspirations?
KL: Anyone who’s into Brazilian music is inspired by Jobim and when you delve deeper into the songs you realise how much of a genius he was as a composer because what initially sounds like a simple melody has so much more underlying complexity harmonically.
Funnily enough though, one of the albums that inspired me most was Casa, which is in fact a tribute to Jobim’s music recorded by pianist Sakamoto and Jacques and Paula Morelenbaum in Jobim’s own house in Rio. Elis Regina’s beautiful recordings have also been a huge inspiration to me.
|Karen Lane with bassist Larry Bartley
Photo credit: Jane Evans
LJN: You did a preview gig of the album at Sunset-Sunside in Paris in January; how did it go?
KL: Oh it was really great. I always enjoy playing in Paris because they love and appreciate jazz so much there. There’s just a really strong tradition of live music in the city and there’s always a great atmosphere. I hope to play more across Europe this year; there’s a really vibrant scene over there at the moment.
LJN: And you’ve got an official London launch at 606 club on 8 May?
KL: Launching at the 606 Club is great because, as many of your readers will know, Steve Rubie is a lover of Brazilian music too. We will have the core band from the recording: Rob Luft on guitar, Steve Watts on bass, Andrea Trillo on drums and Gareth Lockrane on flutes. It is such a pleasure to have these wonderful musicians on the gig as well as having their inspired playing on the album. It was also a delight to invite my daughter Saskia Horton to play violin on Luiz Bonfa’s Manha De Carnival!
The process of having recorded this music with wonderful players is gratification enough but I love performing so relish in these opportunities to make the music come alive for an audience.
Passarim will be released on 28 April on 33 Records and features Karen Lane on vocals, Rob Luft on guitar, Steve Watts on bass, Andrea Trillo on drums, Gareth Lockrane on flutes and Graham Harvey on piano. It also features two London-based Brazilian musicians, bass player Ricardo Dos Santos and percussionist Anselmo Netto, as well as Saskia Horton on violin and Simon McCorry on cello. (pp)