NOSSA BOSSA NOVA
Beyond Bossa Nova - A Tribute To Elis Regina
(Chef Records)

 

Every worthy chef needs good ingredients for their own musical stew and Arizona based Chef Records has their bossa nova recipes down. Fans of the time honored bossa nova sound, pioneered by the late great Brazilian music icon Antonio Carlos Jobim, will totally dig where the group known as Nossa Bossa Nova are coming from on their two recent CD releases. First up is the Arizona based group’s 2009 CD, simply called Standards. Front and center in the Nossa Bossa Nova sound is singer Theresa Levy, who has clearly mastered her Portuguese lingo. Kicking off with Jobim’s “Desafinado” (“Slightly Out Of Tune”), the eleven cut Standards CD features fresh covers of Jobim’s most famous songs and more along with a set closing cover of the Louis Bonfa classic “Manha De Carnival.” Also released in 2009 from Nossa Bossa Nova is Beyond Bossa Nova - A Tribute To Elis Regina. Sort of a companion recording to the Standards CD, the twelve track Beyond Bossa Nova is another very cool tribute to the late Brazilian singing sensation Elis Regina. In the spirit of the Standards CD, Beyond Bossa Nova features more Brazilian bossa nova covers originally penned by Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Baden Powell, Pixinguinha and other unheralded Brazilian superstars. On both of these CDs, Ms. Levy receives fine support from Mike Levy (bass/guitar) and other like-minded players, including added guitar work from Ed DeLucia. Both Mike Levy and Ed DeLucia clearly excel in this tropical / jazzy guitar-based bossa nova interplay and Theresa’s voice is real sultry, just the perfect sound to showcase these Brazilian classics. The CD cover art on both Nossa Bossa Nova titles also includes some English translations behind the lyrics of each song. www.ChefRecords.com

MUSIC WEB EXPRESS 3000 presents an interview with
Mike Levy, Theresa Levy and Ed DeLucia
of NOSSA BOSSA NOVA


Musicians making waves in the music world, their new recordings and gear!

Musical Background

MIKE LEVY
: I’ve been playing music since I was about 8 years old. I started gigging professionally at age 15. My earliest gigs were as a keyboard player. I started playing bass at age 12 and got my first electric guitar around 13. It was a really basic Ibanez Roadstar. Interestingly enough, I still own that guitar. A few years back, my good friend Chad Sonenberg (son of Kent Sonenberg, owner of Legends Guitars) surprised me by having it overhauled by Matt Brewster of 30th Street Guitars in Manhattan. It now has a DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucker put in neck position, a DiMarzio FRED humbucker in bridge position and a DiMarzio HS3 single coil in the middle.

I started composing and recording around age 11. I would bounce back and forth between two cassette decks while adding parts. I got my first 4-track when I was 13 along with a drum machine. From that point on, most of my life has been spent writing, performing, and recording music. Aside from a few moments of distraction, I’ve been a professional musician ever since. Over the last 4 years, I’ve moved more into the production side of things. I still gig several nights a week, but I spend more hours each week producing and engineering for other artists.

THERESA LEVY: I began singing as a child in church, choirs and folk groups. I played piano by ear before I took lessons, and I learned to accompany myself on the guitar, as well. In high school, I began acting and performing in musicals, as well. In college, I took dance, voice and acting lessons. I also began teaching international music in the school system, as well as teaching Latin dance, piano, guitar and voice. As a 2nd generation Italian-American, I grew up hearing my mother speaking with her mother in Italian. Growing up in the Southwest afforded my numerous opportunities to become fluent in Spanish. I’ve always had an ear for romance languages, and began teaching them privately, and soon after, at a University.

Besides my involvement with the Latino community as a Latin dance teacher, I also became involved with the Brazilian community, learning my first Bossa Nova songs in Portuguese from the performers in a Brazilian band, and dancing with their dancers, as well. This, along with my MA coursework in Latin American Studies, led to my fluency in Brazilian Portuguese. Upon completing my Ph.D., I decided that what my heart longed to do was to sing Bossa Nova in Portuguese. I immersed myself, learning all the Brazilian Bossa Nova and MPB tunes that spoke to me. I fell in love with the voice of Elis Regina, the Brazilian superstar singer, who died very young. I listened to this music exclusively; the lyrics were so poetic, the melodies so richly complex, and the performances so gorgeously moving.

ED DELUCIA: My background starts from the mid 60’s - 70's as a beginner. Because I had older siblings I was exposed to anything from The Beach Boys to Janis Joplin. I was first and foremost a blues/rock player and when I describe myself to anyone, that is my identity as a player. I became interested in jazz when I was 17 years old. I studied privately for 2 years in Connecticut and didn't employ those skills until I was in my mid 30's. If not for Tucson being a very forgiving environment for players who need time to develop, I might have never played jazz in public.


New CD

ML
: Beyond Bossa Nova was created in about 2 months. Theresa and I have been performing those songs for years as a duo (guitar/voice) and with full band. We both have such a love for Brazilian music, it was a labor of love. All the tracking, mixing, and mastering took place in my studio, 11:11 Studios. Some of the arrangements are faithful nods to the original recordings while others are more of our own take. Because I play so many instruments, the tracking was done in sections. Alejandro Canelos (drums) and I tracked bass and drums live. After that, I did almost all of the nylon rhythm playing. As I often do, I track as much keyboard and electric guitar as I feel good about, as well as all of the percussion. After that, I bring in my experts. For this record (and most other productions of mine) it was Ed DeLucia on electric/acoustic guitar and Amilcar Guevara and Doug Martin on keys. Brice Winston, from Terrence Blanchard’s band, plays flute on one track.

The production of Standards was a bit more of a whirlwind adventure. It was done in about 2 weeks, start to finish. The personnel are similar to Beyond Bossa Nova. The big difference is that on Standards, Ed DeLucia covered ninety percent of all the guitar duties. Since it was designed to be more of a jazz project, it was natural for me to have Ed featured so much. He was such a trooper for that project. His work was done over three sessions. I really worked him hard, but I think he gave me some amazing performances. I did the nylon playing on the rubato sections, because Theresa and I have a certain groove together that’s hard for any other guitar player to recreate.

My solo CD, Squeaky Wheels, features these guys, as well. They get to stretch and play a little more since it’s an instrumental CD. I like to call it “soul jazz.” Besides the originals, it features tunes done by Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. There’s also a few of my favorite Brazilian songs. Most of the melodies are played on my Music Man 5-string and some on my Fender. I treated the melodic and solo bass playing more like a guitar than a bass, playing them through my Blues Jr. or an old Sunn combo. It features a couple other guitar players, in addition to Ed DeLucia. Matt Mitchell, who’s on the opening track, is a great player. He does the Django thing really well in addition to being a stellar jazz and classical player (and member of an Iron Maiden cover band). The title track, “Squeaky Wheels,” features my friend Chad Sonenberg on guitar. Chad did his own tracks at his studio in New York and sent them to me online.

TL: Beyond Bossa Nova: A Tribute to Elis Regina, is a collection of some of my most favorite songs that I had heard sung by Elis Regina. (See what we wrote on the record.) My Brazilian friends and former professors were from Fortaleza, Salvador do Bahia and Sao Paulo, so my accent was influenced by them. I am a stickler for honoring to the best of my ability the intention of those gifted songwriters, so I spent a good amount of time learning about the meaning of the words, the cultural context, and of course paying close attention to my pronunciation. The poetry of the lyrics and the melodies themselves transport me.

ED: As a session player I have several CD projects that I have worked on. I have yet to finish my own album as I have run out of finances about half way through the project. The good thing about being a side man is you are only required to perform/record and have no responsibility monetarily to the work, on the Nossa Bossa Nova CD’s, I need only show up and play.

As for how the material was recorded, Mike had all the musicians come in and lay their parts down individually. By the time I came in, all the rhythm tracks were finished. All I had to do was take direction from Mike, who is the producer, and if I execute physically then we print. Pertaining to the style, I don't consider myself a Latin styled player. Because my roots are in blues, my approach is to get the "feel" or "vibe" first...after that, I have a few rhythms and or riffs that I go to for just about everything. Again, if you have soul in your approach, it can compensate for lack of skills in a particular genre.


Favorite Guitars

MIKE LEVY
: I owned eight different basses in the first five years I played, everything from a generic red Flying-V to a fancy fretless Padula. When I was a senior in high school in 1990, I found a ’70 Jazz Bass for sale. The owner had replaced the pickups with a P/J EMG set and installed an original Stuart Spector preamp, along with a Badass bridge. That is my main bass to this day. I’ve used Ken Smith strings pretty much since I’ve owned the bass. I recently switched from the stainless Rock Masters to the nickel Burners. I also play a 5-string Music Man strung with a high-C that I use mainly for soloing and melody playing. That bass can be heard all over Squeaky Wheels. In addition, I play a 1980 German upright and a Yamaha fretless.

Guitar-wise, these days my main electric instruments are that modified Roadstar and a ’63 blond Tele. I recently picked up a Manuel Rodriguez classical that I absolutely love! I’ve been stringing it with Ken Smith crystal classics. For steel string duties, I rely on an early ‘80’s Guild D4 with Elixir nano-webs.

In the studio, all the acoustics are mic’d. Depending on the sound I’m going for, I use either a pair of small diaphragm condensers (Josephson C42’s) or a Josephson on the neck with a Neumann U87 or AEA R84 ribbon on the body. I run these through Great River preamps, which are a modern take on the Neve ‘73. I use very little compression or eq while tracking. If anything, a few db’s of optical compression with a little bass roll-off from a pair of Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5033 eq’s.

My go-to electric setup in the studio is through a Fender Blues Jr., mic’d with the U87 or R84 depending on the vibe I’m after. Most of the guitar work I do myself, or have other musicians do, is straight ahead natural sounds so I don’t have an arsenal of effects. For pop productions, I like doing some tricks in the mixing stage like running guitars through vocoders and harmonizers. There’s also a great plug-in called the Antares filter which can make some way out sounds.

ED: For jazz, I use a Gibson (reissue) 175, and I just got an Eastman arch top, that is not on the record. I also used my Martin nylon string acoustic for rhythm and soloing. I use no pedals and no effects. If you hear anything contrary to that it would be added in the mix so I had nothing to do with any of the settings after my parts were finished. Even when I play rock or blues, I don't use any pedals or effects. I have an array of guitars ranging from my Les Paul, my 335's, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Martin steel string and nylon acoustics.

I mostly use Fender Deluxe reverb amps. For Mike's record I am using a Fender Deluxe II. It is a little different from the normal deluxe in that it was designed by Rivera and it isn't the twangy surf sound as much as the full bodied round tone. Very nice amp. If you play guitar, you should try a Deluxe II and you will either love it or hate it. It is for me the best amp. If you want you can come over my house and try my amp...


Musical Influences


ML
: My biggest guitar influences come from my formative years listening to late ‘80’s jazz fusion. Scott Henderson’s early Tribal Tech work is a favorite of mine, particularly his work on Spears. I always loved the way he combined serious rock/blues sounds with jazz harmonies. That’s one of my favorite things about working with Ed DeLucia, too. He’s a bad-ass blues player which heavily flavors his jazz work. I’ve always related to jazz players that grew up playing rock or vice versa.

For the Brazilian music, one can’t help but site João Gilberto as a major influence. I love Baden Powell and I actually really enjoy listening to Jobim play guitar. If I had to pick one favorite album, it would be Elis and Tom. Elis Regina sounds sublime and the band is just soooo funky!

As a bassist, my childhood heroes were Ray Brown, Edgar Meyer, and Marcus Miller. As a bass soloist, I try to not sound like a typical bass player. My goal is to sound more like a blues singer.

TL: Before becoming a Brazilian convert, and Elis Regina devotee, I was a huge fan of Cuban timba (Bamboleo, Paulito, Los Van Van, Buena Vista Social Club). Other artists include Oumou Sangare’, Baaba Maal, Youssou N’Dour, Kanda Bongo Man’s Soukous, Andrea Boccelli’s, Sogno, The Gypsy Kings, Rickie Lee Jones, Prince and Simon & Garfunkel.

ED: Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Janis Joplin, James Taylor, Neil Young, Django Reinhardt, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix. Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Larry Carlton, Grant Green, Les Paul...

I really cut my teeth on The Beatles. I learned the solo on "And I Love Her" at age 11 and it was the beginning of my ability to transcribe solos off a record. Of course back in those days, you had to lift the needle off the album and it played at full speed, now, you can digitally slow a recording down as much as half speed and the pitch is the same.

I learned every song that I could from Meet The Beatles - Abbey Road. When I got my electric guitar, I went for the electric blues. Johnny Winter was my first love and then I went to Clapton, Beck, Page, etc...

Sgt. Pepper'swas probably the most influential album. I also played the shit out of Johnny Winter's Still Alive And Well album but I would have to defer to the Beatles as being my first major influence. I won't even start on my Zappa phase. That's a five year period where I dropped everything and listened only to FZ.


Upcoming Plans


ML: We’re currently working on getting our two CD’s out into the world. The music is timeless and we think that we have a great spin on it. We stay busy with duo gigs around Tucson, and raising two great kids, Lorenzo (4) and Daniela (3). We do have plans for a follow up CD. It’s a unique international take on the Bossa Nova. I can’t say more because I don’t want to give the idea away!! As for recording, I’m constantly busy in the studio with other artists. I work with some Grammy nominated Native American artists as well as singer-songwriters and jazz artists. I’ve recently finished mixing Brice Winston’s solo debut, which should be released next year.

ED: If I can find the money, I would like to finish my solo projects. I have one instrumental and one vocal collaboration project waiting for money to finalize. It is the hardest thing I've attempted to do in my adult life - record a record. I perform weekly at Acacia every Friday night 7-10pm. Outside of that, I am a free lance musician.



Web Site


You can listen to and purchase the CD’s at: www.ChefRecords.com

For most other things related to Theresa and myself, www.1111studios.net will get you there and lead to some other interesting places. I can be reached through the contact page at http://1111studios.net/mikelevy/

www.eddelucia.com and my
e-mail is eddelucia@gmail.com

 

 
   
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