Portland's classic bossa and Brazilian jazz band

The Legendary Portinho

August 26, 2018

This past weekend, we had the privilege of hearing one of the finest Brazilian jazz musicians around today: Portinho. (There’s a great interview with him at this link.) The master drummer plays at NYC’s Churrascaria Plataforma with his great trio, which includes Lincoln Goines on bass and Klaus Mueller on piano.

Portinho has performed with everyone from Nana Caymmi to Harry Belafonte. He recently released Vinho de Porto, an album with trombonist Jay Ashby; another recording he’s featured on is Bossarenova with the wonderful vocalist Paula Morelenbaum and the SWR Big Band out of Stuttgart.

It’s amazing that you can still catch Portinho from 6:30-11:30pm at 316 West 49th Street, NYC, most Fridays and Saturdays. (This is one of the few regular Brazilian jazz listening opportunities still in existence in the city; The Coffee Shop is closing, and the Zinc Bar has minimized its Brazilian jazz programming.)


July 9, 2018

First recorded in 1966, this has become one of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s most famous songs (of which there are so many!). This heartbreakingly beautiful live version, recorded by Jobim in 1981, is one of our favorites.


April 26, 2018

We are big fans of Nara Leão‘s, and especially of her repertoire choices. Her debut album, “Nara,” ends with a little musical treat: a rendition of Moacir Santos’ Nanã (originally Coisa No. 5). This memorable tune, which is given a bolero-like treatment sans chordal instruments on “Nara,” has been recorded by everyone from Flora Purim to Sergio Mendes. But we love this simple horn arrangement with sultry vocalise.


Tristeza de Nós Dois

February 10, 2018

Here’s another beautiful song. Written by Durval Ferreira, Mauricio Einhorn and Bebeto, it’s been recorded by Wanda Sá (interesting piece on the singer), Nara Leão, Sergio Mendes, and Joyce, among others. Jobim recorded an instrumental version that references the trumpet outro in Sá’s rendition. One interesting thing about this tune is that in almost every version we’ve listened to, the intro is in a different key, so it’s kind of surprising when the actual tune begins. The memorable melody begins with wide intervals.

Sá, whose voice now reminds us somewhat of Betty Carter’s, sang with a breathy, girlish tone back in the bossa nova era. We are enchanted by the way she sings this song about nostalgia for a lost love.

Menino das Laranjas

January 13, 2018

The great vocalist Elis Regina recorded a vivacious version of this song on her 1965 album Samba Eu Canto Assim. But the song’s composer, Théo de Barros, released a pretty swinging version 15 years later on his album Primeiro Disco. The composer both played guitar and sang. Both the lyrics and the changes are slightly different from Elis’s version. (Joyce also does a really nice version on her tribute album to Elis.)

The tune is about an impoverished young boy who must sell oranges in the street to help support his single mother. It’s amazing how de Barros transforms such a sobering topic  into such beautiful music.


Samba e Amor: A Haunting Song

December 24, 2017

This is one of the most beautiful songs we’ve ever heard. While you may be familiar with the Bebel Gilberto version, the song’s composer, Chico Buarque, recorded it several times (in both Portuguese and Italian). The harmony includes a lot of dominant seventh chords voiced with the seventh in the bass; the chords create a suspended, dreamlike setting for the melody.

In the late 1960s, Buarque recorded a multi-volume anthology of original music. This version of Samba e Amor, which features a jazzy trumpet, comes from the fourth record. The song is written from the perspective of a sleepy person who observes the buzz of the city after spending the night in a haze of samba and love.


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