BRAZILIAN JAZZ PROJECTS
Over the years, Maria has performed Brazilian vocals and percussion with a number of ensembles, starting with the samba band MARACUJA in Boston, led by David Rumpler in the mid-late 1990's. Since then she's woven Brazilian repertoire into groups under her own direction, including the world music duo TWIN SOULS with Haitian native Diego Jameau, quintet BLUE BRAZIL with Bob Afifi (flute), Nate Lopez (7 string guitar & bass) / Chuck Sher (bass), Pablo Rodriguez (guitar), and Jacob Harris / Kim Atkinson (percussion), and smaller ensemble work with Argentine guitarist Sebastian Link and trumpeter Hal Forman.
ABRAZU was one of Maria's more recent Brazilian Jazz projects that included renowned Sonoma County musicians: Dave MacNab (guitar), Kendrick Freeman (percussion & vocals), Bob Afifi (flute), and Gabe Case (bass & vocals), performing music that crosses over the borders of mpb, bossa, samba, funk, r&b, jazz, and afro-indian. Drawing from the songbooks of Djavan, Bebel Gilberto, Jobim, and many others, the music of ABRAZU embraces the listener with warm and compelling vocal harmonies, earthy rhythmic grooves, and transcendent solos.
With an immense amount of collective experience in jazz, r&b, classical, world, Latin, West African, and popular styles between them, Bija, MacNab, Freeman, Afifi and Case hold an extensive list of credentials. Individually, their experiences include national tours and awards, TV and radio appearances, international record contracts, recordings and performances with Grammy-Award winning artists, published compositions, and university masterclasses. Together these extraordinary five musicians form a classy ensemble, captivating hearts, minds and bodies with the alluring music of Brasil.
ABRAZU Quintet at The Hopmonk Tavern, October 25, 2015.
Maria Jameau’s Gema (CR73304) has the appealing singer performing infectious music from Brazil and South America.
Maria Jameau may have been born in Boston but on Gema she sounds like an authentic Brazilian jazz and samba singer. Her familiarity with other cultures is obvious on this set, and as it turned out she has studied and performed in Italy, India, Ghana and Brazil in addition to the United States. While she spends time with her choir organization The Bija Children’s Choir, she has also performed with many different ensembles.
Ms. Jameau formed Blue Brazil a few years ago and Gema from 2010 was their recording debut. She performs songs from Brazil, Africa, Spain and South America with joy, enthusiasm and strong musicianship. Her voice is quite attractive, allowing one to overcome the language barrier when she sings in Spanish or Portuguese.
The singer is joined by acoustic guitarist Pablo Rodriguez, bassist Nate Lopez, percussionist Jacob Harris and Bob Afifi on flute. Afifi blends in particularly well with the vocals.
The most familiar songs on this set are the two Antonio Carlos Jobim standards “Triste” and “The Girl From Ipanema” but many of the other tunes have memorable melodies that inspire fine playing from the musicians.
Fans of Brazilian-based singing and those who want to discover a “new” and highly appealing vocalist will want to check out Maria Jameau’s Gema.
Maria Jameau And Blue Brazil: Gema
By C. MICHAEL BAILEY
July 2, 2011
Track reviewof "Malaika"
Gema is Maria Jameau's collection of Brazilian, Spanish, and African tunes, with the ostensible intention of showing how big the folk musical tent is. Jameau and her band, Blue Brazil, are centered in the culturally-rich Sonoma County, where the muse is strong for an organic mix of musical influences, all thickened with the roux of Mother Africa. The regions of origin for a given selection is easily identified, but there exists a rhythmic thread passing through all of this music like the Biblical remnant of Christian tradition.
Amongst these eleven songs emerges the enlightening Kenyan pop song, "Malaika." Surrounded by plush samba and Spanish beats, something more basic and fecund blooms, stripping away regional artifice to reveal that all these musics have in common: the harmony and rhythm—the life pulse. In "Malaika" can be heard plainchant, chansons and European folk tunes as well as native American and Canadian songs. Jameau beautifully renders this piece so it will teach those commonalities among us all.