08/10/11

Artist's Choice: Jane Monheit on Ivan Lins

Today’s top jazz performers pick 10 favorite tracks by the players, singers and styles that helped define them.

I can remember the exact moment I first heard Ivan’s music: My first voice lesson with Peter Eldridge when I was 17 and starting at the Manhattan School of Music. His songs captured me immediately, and I’ve loved them deeply ever since. I’ve recorded many—four of them as duets with Ivan—and even penned lyrics for our most recent collaboration. The beauty and brilliance of his music has changed my life, and on top of it all he’s the loveliest person you could ever hope to meet. Here are 10 of my favorites, in no particular order.

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“Começar de Novo”
A Noite (EMI, 1979)
One of Lins’ most famous songs. Such a dark, passionate lyric, combined with a very delicate and beautiful melody. Harmonically stunning. There’s a live version with Simone that is just incredible. Her interpretations of his music are deeply moving to me.

“Depois do Temporais”
Depois do Temporais (Mercury, 1983)
I can’t really even describe how this song makes me feel. It’s absolutely transportive, with such an understated intensity. Ivan performs it live often, and I’ve been there to hear it many times. It’s magic, easily one of my favorite songs of all time, by anyone.

“Madalena”
Elis Regina
Ela (Philips, 1971)
This song is infectiously happy and makes anyone want to sing along and dance. It takes over the room—I’ve seen it happen! It was a big hit for Elis Regina in the ’70s, and is still a favorite of anyone who knows and loves Ivan.

“Love Dance”
Love Dance (Reprise, 1988)
Another classic, and probably one of his most covered songs as well. The English lyrics by Paul Williams are so frank and romantic, combined with an iconic melody. I don’t know a single singer who doesn’t love to interpret this. I had the honor of recording this with Ivan about nine years ago, and still haven’t gotten over it!

“É de Deus”
Anjo de Mim (Velas, 1995)
A lovely, light samba that is so uplifting, and another one that gets everyone singing. It has a hopeful message, too, which you can hear in the music even if you don’t understand the Portuguese. Ivan’s melodies always communicate the emotional message of the song so clearly.

“Lembra de Mim (Remember Me)”
Anjo de Mim (Velas, 1995)
Ivan has recorded this in both Portuguese and English. So touching and wistful, with such a lyric: “I was an island in the river of your kiss.” One of the loveliest songs about lost romance ever written, perhaps because the melody and harmony keep the song from being mired in sadness.

“Rio de Maio”
Jobiniando (Abril, 2001)
I’ve heard Ivan say many times that this is one of his favorites. A love letter to Rio, this song has such a beautiful harmonic structure that rises to such a gorgeous climax before falling back into the opening melody. It’s so much more than just a song; it’s a journey.

“Emoldurada”
A Cor Do Pôr-Do-Sol (EMI, 2000)
I’m listening to it now and dancing at my desk as I type this! My favorite sing-along samba. This is one of those songs that makes everything seem better and brighter, no matter what’s going on. Samba is healing music, always bringing joy and light to the listener.

“Acaso (No Tomorrow)”
Jane Monheit The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me (Concord, 2009)
This is another with a beautiful English lyric, this time by Peter Eldridge. I love singing this melody. There are constant intervallic jumps that must be sung with delicacy and precision without sacrificing emotional quality. The subtle, sad romance of Peter’s lyric is unbelievably lovely with Ivan’s music, a match made in heaven.

“Dois Córregos”
A Cor Do Pôr-Do-Sol (EMI, 2000)
Epic romance. Enough said.

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