Oct 22nd 2009


Interview by Alex Bordokas

Luanda Jones first solo CD is being released this Friday(Oct 23rd) at Lula Lounge. I have the good fortune of knowing Luanda personally and I received an advance copy just yesterday. I downloaded the tracks, took a gander at the beautiful cover art and continued my online browsing as the album started playing. I soon stopped whatever I was doing however, and sat back to just listen to the music.

Since her arrival in Canada, I’ve accompanied Luanda’s musical career, sometimes closely, sometimes at a distance. I have always been impressed at her professionalism, her musical sensibility and classy stage presence. She is quintessentially Carioca, from Rio de Janeiro, and her sound echoes the feel of the city. Don’t get me wrong; Luanda is not some stereotyped musical postcard of the picturesque Rio landscape. She is a fully cultured international woman who knows exactly what her tastes are and what she wants.

A paragraph from her release says a lot about her musical background: The invaluable influences of her early home life would swell dramatically over the years to include not only Brazilian stalwarts such as Tom Jobim, Jorge Benjor, Gilberto Gil, and Rita Lee, but also international artists like the Beatles and Badi Assad.  Luanda has also received classical vocal training from the esteemed Professor Vera Canto e Mello, earning her a graduate certificate in music harmony studies from the MusiCenter music school in Rio de Janeiro.

In good ol’ Toronto, I’ve watched her perform at such diverse placed as the Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s studio M-DO, a few concerts with trip hop musical activists Lal, and alongside Aline Morales as part of the now defunct and legendary Maracatu Nunca Antes. Other people she has worked with have included Maninho Costa of Batucada Carioca, bassist supreme Ian De Souza and piano player and composer Gordon Sheard.

My mom and I in Toronto 2009
Pic by Kevin Jones

Luanda performing with her mother Irinéa Maria Ribeiro

CD Aquarela

The sound on the CD is phenomenal and we largely should thank Lal’s Nick Murr at the helm together with Luanda’s honed sense of what she wants to hear. A few surprises await the listener, something familiar yet totally new, edgy but graceful. I like it all from start to finish with no exceptions. After just two listens I have a personal favorite, Chorinho. Other very notable tracks are Do Jeito Que Eu Gosto, a maracatu with Aline Morales guesting, Meu Samba and Se Segura  with Maninho Costa, as well as the title track Aquarela and Gato Cor de Café, heck… the whole CD is wicked, and the production is the (ahem) bomb! You can listen to some tracks here.

My mom and I
Luanda singing with her mother at age seven


I emailed Luanda some questions for the blog post and she promptly (ahem) got back to me. The following is my interview with her (please excuse any errors in my translation):

  • What were your biggest musical influences when you were growing up?

    My parents Irinea Maria Ribeiro and Luis Moreno, My mother gave me the influence of bossanova, beautiful melodies and from my dad I got rock, pop, funk and jazz. Both were musicians and composers and that was very significant for me because since I was eight years old I was on the stage singing with my mom or seeing my father play drum kit with some of the best Brazilian musicians, like Elis Regina.

  • What was your first musical project?

    I participated in a lot of shows with my mother when I was young and  I also recorded a lot of jingles for radio and TV. AS a composer I participated in various festivals in Rio and all of Brazil.

  • What the influences you have acquired snce moving to Canada?

    I’ve had a lot of influences since moving to Canada, Maracatu came right at the start, through Aline and Maracatu Nunca Antes. Samba reappeared through my musical coexistence with the sambista Carioca (from Rio) Maninho Costa, the leader of Batucada Carioca. Then there is the jazz, which is a root of bossa that has always been part of my style of singing, and funk. All of these I revisit because of the longing for (saudade) of my city and my country, Brazil.

  • What is the story behind how your new CD Aquarela came to be?

    It all began with a song lyrics that Fernando Matias gave me back on 2006. I remember that I had asked him for lyrics, telling him that ever since my arrival in Canada I hadn’t made any music, and that I longing to compose. Perceptively, he asked me if I was recording a CD, and said I he would give me the song if I planned on recording it. I thought to myself, it’s strange, I’ve been making music for 10 years and nobody has ever said to me that they would only give my a lyrics under that condition. Interestingly, I agreed and waiting anxiously for the song. What came was Aquarela, for the song was born the same day, and was no longer just a poem on a page. From there, all of the incentive came, along with an immense feeling to tell a story, my history in Canada, how I ended up here, the story of music in my life ( “Música” ), a new love the was developing ( “Menino” ), a longing for what was left behind (“Meu Samba”). I gathered everything new that I had lived, from the influences that I reencountered here ( samba |  funk | maracatu | jazz ) and synthesized everything, reflecting in my own songs  and  the music  of my  mother,  Irinéa Maria Ribeiro ( “Chorinho”,  “Mal Cura” ), and of my father Luis Moreno (  “Gato cor de café” ). This is the result of the collective work of a musical family.

  • Any plans for the future?

    With the arrival of this first CD, I certainly will expand my touring circuit. I would like to tour in Western Canada, and also Montreal and Quebec. I think Canada is open to Brazilian music, which is recognized on all continents. I am grateful I can sing in Portuguese and be appreciated by world music lovers.

  • Dedications?

    I would like to dedicate this first record to all of my many close friends that helped me so much throughout this project. To my mother, Irinéa Maria Ribeiro, a great musician and human being – my teacher and inspiration. To my father Luis Moreno , and my grandmother Alzira (in memory), I dedicate not only this CD but all of my musical existence.

    My father,Luis Moreno
    Luanda’s father Luis Moreno

    Interview by Alex Bordokas (Rio Matte) on Oct 22nd 2009

    Some Pics from CD Release Party on Oct 23rd at Lula