Saturday, October 3, 2009

In review--Brazilian Bim Bom & Other Celebrations

Ithmara Koorax & Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom (The Complete João Gilberto Songbook)
Motèma Music

With Brazilians in the throes of celebration over the announcement about 2016 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, it seems appropriate to review a bossa nova recording. Brazilian chanteuse Ithmara Koorax and guitarist Juarez Moreira do their own bit of celebrating the founder of bossa nova, João Gilberto. The year 2008 marked the 50th anniversary based on João Gilberto’s first bossa nova recordings.

Fifty years later bossa nova feels hotter than ever and Gilberto has become a Brazilian jazz legend. The bossa nova style with its laid back groove, slightly flat and syncopated vocals and sedate guitar, seems only simple on the surface. After giving Bim Bom several listens and paying close attention to Koorax’s vocals and Moreira’s guitar, I could hear that this subtle music sports its share of complexities. The musicians, to their credit, only make it sound simple.

Only a handful of tracks appear here from the breezy opener, titular song, so tuneful it sticks in your head for the remainder of the day. The guitar work alone on the track could leave a listener exhilarated. Then top it off with Koorax’s masterful vocals which treat the challenge like musical playground. After the complex rhythms, Koorax slows down on Ho-Bà-Là-Là and her soprano voice glides gently over Moreira’s melancholic guitar. Minha Saudade though with its staccato guitar and Koorax’s scat-style vocals and signature scream (sounds like a bird whistle), is my favorite track on the album. This track gets me out of bed in the morning and I am rearing to go after listening to it.

Other tracks include, Forgotten Places, Voce Esteve Com Meu Bem?, Valsa (Bebel), An Embrace to Bonfà, Glass Beads, João Marcelo, Undiu, Acapulco and an English version of Ho-Bà-Là-Là. The entire recording feels like a warm Brazilian welcome, and certainly this music sets a romantic, if not, a relaxing mood. The Portuguese language, stellar vocals and gorgeous guitar entice listeners. And even more enticing, the sale of Bim Bom raises funds for the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund and is part of Motèma Music Jazz Therapy series (

Also see the announcement about the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund on this blog.

If you know of any health studies involving bossa nova, please contact me. I have an interest in learning more about healing potential of this Brazilian genre.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

article in New Spirit Journal

I published "The Whole Music Experience "Becoming Aware of Effects of Words, Thoughts & Sounds" in the October 2009 issue of the New Spirit Journal.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Poetry--Universal Music

Universal Song

When God created music and heard the first human sing, God had an idea. Place the most beautiful harmonies up on the mountain tops give that gift to shepherds and cowherds.

Sprinkle New Orleans with lots of spice, musical strains from everywhere unite in celebration---march on saints!

In India, the twangs of ancient instruments and vibrato voices linger in halls of the gods and goddesses, holding a center of peaceful bliss.

In Africa and the Caribbean, a cacophony of languages and polyrhythms allow humans an aerobic workout--sexual tension released.

Climbing the Andes, pan flutes of peasants and Indians resonate in thin air. And further up the Americas, Native Americans pound on the community drum and sing about tribal life.

Throughout the planet, horns, bells, whistles, flutes, shawms and trombones ring out, clarinets and saxophones swirl with Italian accordions, fiddles and violins strike chords and everyone joins their voices into a peace choir.

Women and men must sing, musicians must play, people and other creatures must heal--there is no other way.

Take me to New Orleans, I want to march with those musical saints!

Patricia Herlevi, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

FYI--Dizzy Gillespie Legacy

The late jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie did not only leave us with his be-bop-Latin jazz fusion, but in his memory, a fund to help ailing musicians with healthcare costs was also established. When the jazz musician was dying from pancreatic cancer at the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey, he told his oncologist, Dr. Forte, "I can't give you any money, but I can let you use my name. Promise you'll help musicians less fortunate than I am."

According to the liner notes for The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook (CD, Motema), "In late 1993, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center Foundation honored his request by establishing the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund which raises money to help underwrite the costs of hospitalization, diagnostic tests...for jazz musicians in need, but unable to pay."

Dr. Forte organized physicians to give free care to musicians both at offices and at home.

To learn more about this fund, go to

If you would like to donate to the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund, make out and send a check to:

The Englewood Hospital & Medical Center Foundation (DG Fund),

350 Engle Street, Englewood, NJ 07361