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“The Brazil Connection”: Of Rio & Reinvention

Classic vocal tracks meet fresh Brazilian-styled arrangements

Marcos Valle
Aretha Franklin
Billie Holiday
Frank (left) and Christian Berman

It’s the feel-good album of 2014. But it dates, at least in part, from 1958. Also 1961. And 1964, ’69, ’78 and ’82. The Brazil Connection, brainchild of producer brothers Frank and Christian Berman, brings together 12 classic vocals, spanning jazz, soul and pop, all refitted to new bossa or samba arrangements as performed by a stellar assortment of Brazilian jazz musicians. Billed as Studio Rio, the lineup includes such living legends as Marcos Valle and Roberto Menescal.

Released in June, the sun-dappled disc caught the immediate attention of radio programmers and, according to the JazzWeek Radio Chart, was picked up by more than 100 stations by mid-summer. Toronto’s JAZZ-FM91, for example, added almost every track in heavy rotation-not just cuts from Billie Holiday, Mel Tormé, Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone but also Sly and the Family Stone, Bill Withers and Aretha Franklin.

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