“Slow, Hot, Wind – A Tribute to Great Ballads and Bossa Nova” is an ambitious project by Saxophonist Brent Gallaher seeking to bring a fresh face to the Bossa Nova landscape. Years in the making the project sees talented musicians and producers come together from New York to Cincinnati to Japan. We were fortunate enough to have the leader of the project Brent answer a couple questions for us about him and his relationship with bossa nova.
BN: Why did you chose to include bossa nova in your project?
BG: Jokingly – Because of the way it makes my wife sway her hips.
I just love to play them. Most of them have such great melodies, and interesting harmony. They still swing without being swing music. Harmonically they go such different places than standard jazz tunes, so they provide a different canvas, and different colors for me to paint a picture with.
BG:Well, as most saxophonists, I find Stan Getz and bossa nova go hand in hand. Which naturally leads to listening to a lot of João Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto. I also love the Joe Henderson tribute to Jobim “Double Rainbow.”As far as more modern artist I love listening to Eliane Elias. Bruno Mangueira is a great guitarist/composer/arranger that one of Cincinnati’s pianists Phil Degreg introduced me too a few years ago.
I guess mostly I am a traditionalist.
BG: I have hundreds of CDs and records in my collection. But there are a few of them that make it off the selves for long perionds of time on a regular basis. One of these is a nice collection of Jobim recordings, “The Man from Ipanema”. I don’t know that I can put my finger on one thing that makes it hit home. But I find Jobim’s recordings to be a perfect balance of beautiful melodies and complex harmonies.
I find it hard to tire of his music, and it always makes feel good to listen to it. So, Jobim, of course is at the top of the list.
Some of the faces of the project:
BG: I am not sure I am qualified to answer that.
As US native, I find that most of the music that I find dear to me and interesting, is losing ground on the popularity scale. Not many listeners want to really listen, or be challenged as listeners. Music is too accessible and you don’t have to learn to play it yourself to take it with you wherever you go anymore.
So, at least here in the States, I am not sure that any music that I really love has much momentum with the general masses. We are more or less stuff of background music at fancy parties. There are, of course, listeners still out there. Great listeners, in fact. It’s just their numbers seem to be dwindling. Or maybe they just aren’t coming out for live music as much. Again, there are a million great recordings for free or next to free, so they have less need to go out to get it.
Bossa is one of those neat musics that seems to be able to cross the line of popular and art music. It’s melodies and lyrics are very obtainable to a general audience, but there is a level of hidden complexity that makes it really fun for musicians as well. I think when people are exposed to it, they find it easy to like it.
I do find it interesting that every Brazilian that I have ever met in my travels knows about bossa, and really knows and loves Jobim. Doesn’t matter if they play or not, they know and love Jobim. It’s so cool. He might as well be Michael Jackson for them. I’m always kind of in awe of this and wish that all I could go around in the States and ask anyone how they feel about Billy Strayhorn and just have them know the name. Short of getting a huge corporation on board as a sponser, I just don’t know that (US) Americans will ever have a way to be exposed to art music on a daily basis, so I am not surprise that, at least here, many people know very little about it.
There are always going to be those of us who will keep this music alive. But I am not sure how the form will evolve, or if will ever reach the same height in popularity it did after “Jazz Samba” or “Getz/Gilberto.”
Learn more about the project and personnel behind it over at kickstart where you can also donate to aid Brent and his colleagues in making this project a reality.