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cover image for Hih – Monica Vasconcelos

Hih – Monica Vasconcelos

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“I’m so happy to be on this record. It’s great when an opportunity like this arrives unexpectedly: for Alfie, to help work out some lyrics when you wanted to sing a couple of songs in English. And for me, to be allowed to come along and join in with this brilliant bunch of musos. And mostly to celebrate the arrival of this beautiful vocalist to our shores, bringing us the dance and the deep song of Brazil. Thank you Mônica, from us both.” Robert Wyatt

Fifteen years ago Mônica Vasconcelos arrived in the UK from Brazil. With a background that included singing in tough São Paulo bars and recording with old sambistas, not to forget her part in a nationally successful a capella group, she soon fell in with some of London’s best musicians and Mônica has since performed at many world-class venues (inc. The Barbican and Ronnie Scott’s) and festivals (inc. Cheltenham International Jazz Festival and Brecon Jazz). She has also performed as support for Brazilian icon Gilberto Gil, as well as Joyce, Airto Moreira and, not to forget in the UK contingent, Brian Ferry and Courtney Pine.

To date she has released 5 albums. These present her unique voice in both self-penned and classic standards of Brazilian repertoire. Her 6th and most recent is ‘hih’ and it has, at its core, her long-time friend and co-conspirator, Steve Lodder (of Andy Sheppard fame) on keyboards, plus Dudley Phillips on bass and Adewale on percussion.

It also includes two mixed-language collaborations with the eccentric legend of UK pop, Robert Wyatt. For her part, Mônica sang lead vocals on the track, “Just As You Are”, from Robert’s recent and critically-acclaimed album ‘Comicopera’ and here Robert returns the favour with two intensely personal songs “Out Of The Doldrums” and “Still In The Dark (You’re Not My Sunshine)”, both co-written with his partner, Alfie Benge, and Dudley Phillips for the former and Steve Lodder the latter.

But it really is Mônica’s album. Singing mainly in Brazilian-Portuguese and rooted ‘MPB’ (Música Popular Brasileira) Mônica brings a unique vision to one of the world’s most popular, popular musics.

Mônica Vasconcelos – (vocals & guitar), Steve Lodder – (keyboards, piano & harmonium), Dudley Phillips – (electric & double bass), Adriano Adewale – (percussion), Ingrid Laubrock – (soprano sax, track 4) and Robert Wyatt – (backing vocals tracks 4, 10) and others

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REVIEWS

Guardian

“Every artist appreciates a good endorsement, and they don’t come much better than this:” Celebrate the arrival of this beautiful vocalist to our shores…bringing us the dance and deep song of Brazil,” writes robert wyatt on the cover of the album-and he himself appears on the album as a ‘special guest’.Vasconcelos is not exactly a newcomer-she has been living in the uk for 15 years-but she is certainly worth celebrating.Along with the more experimental Cibelle,she is among the most successful Brazilian musicians based here,and her 6th album is classy and varied. Best known recently for her work with Nois4,she is now backed by a trio led by the pianist steve lodder,who helped write the songs[sic]:a mixture of finely sung,jazz-edged ballads with upbeat tracks that show off her cool,easygoing style and the rasping edge to her voice.Then there’s a song from the veteran sambista Martinho da Vila,and best of all,2 duets with Wyatt.Out of the doldrums and Still in the dark are gently thoughtful fusions of Brazilian and British influences that are as intriguing as they are original.”