JESSE HARRIS & VINICIUS CANTUARIA

HarrisCantuaria cover web

Album: Surpresa
Label: Sunnyside Records
Vertrieb: Broken Silence
VÖ: 20. August 2021
 

 

2020 war ein Jahr des Wartens für die ganze Welt. Die COVID-19-Pandemie hat für die meisten Menschen das Leben pausieren lassen und alle warteten, wann das Leben zur Normalität zurückkehren würde. Die Singer/Songwriter Jesse Harris und Vinicius Cantuaria nahmen sich die Zeit der Pause, um ein Projekt aufzunehmen, das sich in den letzten Jahren entwickelt hatte. Surpresa ist der bezaubernde Höhepunkt ihrer Bemühungen und zeigt, dass sich das Warten auf manche Dinge lohnt.

 

Beide Künstler sind bekannt für ihre überragenden Fähigkeiten im Songwriting. Harris wurde als Mitglied von Once Blue in der Musikwelt bekannt und schrieb später Hits für Norah Jones, Melody Gardot, Solomon Burke und andere. Der Multiinstrumentalist und Komponist Cantuaria begann seine professionelle Arbeit als Mitglied der Band von Caetano Veloso und hat sich mit seiner einzigartigen Herangehensweise an die Musik seiner Heimat Brasilien und seiner faszinierenden Zusammenarbeit mit so unterschiedlichen Künstlern wie Ryuichi Sakamoto und Laurie Anderson einen Namen gemacht.

 

Es war ungefähr der Zeitpunkt, an dem sie beschlossen hatten, gemeinsam aufzunehmen, als die Pandemie zuschlug. Anstatt desillusioniert zu werden, begann Harris seine kreativen Bemühungen zu steigern. Sein Heimstudio, Secret Sun West, ermöglichte es ihm, jederzeit zu arbeiten, wenn er sich inspiriert fühlte. Als Cantuaria endlich in die Staaten zurückkehren konnte, begannen die beiden Freunde sofort mit den Aufnahmen von Surpresa.

 

Die meisten Songs wurden gemeinsam oder getrennt von Harris oder Cantuaria geschrieben, mit Ausnahme von Gilberto Gils „Ó, Maria“. Sie nahmen die meisten Instrumente selbst auf und brachten eine Handvoll besonderer Gäste mit, um ihre Arbeit zu ergänzen. Nachdem er jahrelang mit Melody Gardot zusammengearbeitet hatte, war es nur natürlich, dass Harris sie einlud, ihren Gesang und ein wenig Klavier beizusteuern. Auch Gitarrenzauberer Bill Frisell wurde bei einigen Songs mit wunderbarer Wirkung eingesetzt. Weitere Gäste waren Sängerin Gabi Hatmann, Hornarrangeur CJ „CARM“ Camerieri, Perkussionist Jeremy Gustin und Will Graefe.

MUSICIANS:

Vinicius Cantuaria: Guitar, vocals, drums and percussion

Jesse Harris: Guitar, vocals, and drums

Melody Gardot: harmony vocals (1, 2, 4, 5) and piano (5) 

Bill Frisell: electric guitar (7, 8)

+ others

 

TRACK LISTING:

Waiting  |Rio Negro | Far Away | How Long | Surpresa | Broken Umbrellas | Ó, Maria | Colibri | Little Star | West Broadway Shuffle | You, The Queen

The past year found the whole world waiting. The COVID-19 pandemic paused life for most people and found everybody looking ahead to when life would return to normalcy. Singer/songwriters Jesse Harris and Vinicius Cantuaria took the time provided by the lull to record a project that had been evolving over the previous few years. Surpresa is the enchanting culmination of their efforts and it shows that some things are well worth the wait. 

 

Both artists are well-known for their superior songwriting abilities. Harris came to the attention of the music world as a member of Once Blue and, later, writing hit songs for Norah Jones, Melody Gardot, Solomon Burke, and more. Beginning his professional work as a member of Caetano Veloso’s band, the multi-instrumentalist and composer Cantuaria has made a name for himself with his unique approach to the music of his native Brazil and his intriguing collaborations with artists as diverse as Ryuichi Sakamoto and Laurie Anderson. 

 

Harris and Cantuaria initially met in 2011 when their mutual friend Dadi Carvalho introduced them, allowing Harris to stay at Cantuaria’s Rio de Janeiro home while Harris was in Brazil. Once he returned to New York, Harris visited Cantuaria and his wife Claire in Brooklyn. They struck up an immediate friendship and began hanging out and writing music. The writing eventually led to Harris inviting Cantuaria to play on gigs where they would incorporate each other’s songs and those of Tom Jobim into a working repertoire. Harris would go on to write “This Time” for Cantuaria’s 2012 recording, Indio De Apartamento.

 

It was about the time that they had decided to record together that the pandemic hit. Rather than becoming disillusioned, Harris began to ramp up his creative efforts. His home studio, Secret Sun West, allowed him to create any time he felt inspired to. When Cantuaria was able to finally return to the States, the two friends jumped immediately into recording Surpresa.

 

The majority of the tunes were written collectively, or separately by Harris or Cantuaria, with the exception of Gilberto Gil’s “Ó, Maria.” They recorded most of the instruments themselves, bringing in a handful of special guests to add to their work. Having worked with Melody Gardot for years, it was only natural that Harris invited her to add her vocals and a little piano. Guitar wizard Bill Frisell was also brought in to wonderful effect on a couple of tunes. Other guests included vocalist Gabi Hatmann, horn arranger CJ “CARM” Camerieri, percussionist Jeremy Gustin, and Will Graefe

 

The recording begins with Harris’s folky “Waiting,” a wistful piece written about waiting for things to get better. Cantuaria wrote “Rio Negro” years back with the legendary Caetano Veloso and revisits it here in a cool, bittersweet style. Harris wrote “Far Away” as he watched planes flying over Gardot’s Paris apartment, missing places and people he’d love to visit. The first song the duo of Cantuaria and Harris wrote together, “How Long?” came together when the two friends were still in isolation, Cantuaria providing the music and Harris the lyrics, which ask the question that was on everybody’s mind during the Summer of 2020. The breezy yet resonant title tune follows on a positive note, the duo’s tune expressing the beautiful feeling of people coming together again, amplified by their collective voices and Gardot’s sonorous piano. 

 

Taking inspiration from a photography book by Roe Ethridge, the duo’s jaunty “Broken Umbrellas” is about summer ending and its unfulfilled dreams. Gilberto Gil’s “Ó, Maria” finds Harris singing in touching Portuguese and Frisell adding his tasteful plectrum of strings. Frisell is also featured on Cantuaria and Argentinean composer Alejandro Corvalan’s “Colibri,” adding his typical haunting, bluesy touch alongside Cantuaria’s penitent vocals. Harris’s moving instrumental “Little Star” is revisited with the aid of Jeremy Gustin on percussion. Though it began as a Cantuaria instrumental, the bouncy “West Broadway Shuffle” finds additional charm with Harris’s guitar-doubling melody and lyrics. Harris’s “You, The Queen” is a song that Cantuaria loves to perform and it is a fitting end to their quietly poignant program.

 

It seems all too appropriate that Jesse Harris and Vinicius Cantuaria’s collaborative album, Surpresa, would have that uniquely Brazilian feeling of saudade. Their music and words could easily express the thoughts and feelings of the population as it sat and waited longingly for the world to start spinning again.

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