Leny Andrade and Roni Ben-Hur
Leny Andrade and Roni Ben-Hur



Duo Will Perform at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola on October 9, 10, and 11

“Leny is one of the greatest improvisers in the world. I love the way she sings. She is an original!” – Tony Bennett

Latin Grammy winner Leny Andrade is acknowledged as Brazil’s one true jazz singer. Her voice is a deep, husky instrument of such dramatic depth that, as Stephen Holden wrote in the New York Times, it “seems to well up from the center of the earth.” Andrade blends jazz with samba, bossa nova, and bolero; her improvisational brilliance and vocal fireworks have led many writers to compare her to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Both singers were her fans, along with Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Now 72 and at the peak of her career, Andrade has made a revelatory new CD for Motéma Music. Alegria de Viver (Joy of Living), which will be released on October 2, is a departure from her fiery performances with trio. This is the intimate Andrade, singing Brazilian classics in duo with Roni Ben-Hur, the celebrated Israeli jazz guitar player and Motema artist. “I chose the repertoire,” she says. “I’d never recorded these songs. Fantastic-I did a perfect list.” It includes Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi” and “Estrada Branca”; the beloved “Carinhoso” by Pixinguinha, the choro master of the 1920s and ’30s; “Cantador” (by Dori Caymmi and Nelson Motta), a song immortalized by legendary singer Elis Regina in 1967; and “O Que Amar,” written by one of the fathers of the bossa nova, Johnny Alf. Andrade’s voice is purring and earthy, full of wisdom, humor, and playfulness; Ben-Hur’s gentle accompaniment is pared down to the essentials.

Born in Israel to a family that had migrated from Tunisia, Ben-Hur has successfully combined classical Spanish repertoire-an offshoot of his Sephardic roots-with Brazilian music and jazz. His project with Andrade took wing in 2012, when she went to Bar Harbor, Maine to guest-teach at a jazz and Brazilian music camp that Ben-Hur had cofounded. In one class, he played while she sang. Andrade was delighted-“and for me it was love at first sight,” recalls Ben-Hur. “Leny said, ‘I would like to make a record with you.'”

In January 2014, they teamed for four days in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, and created most of this CD. “It was a very casual atmosphere,” says Ben-Hur. “We were both in one small room sitting next to each other.” Nearly all the performances were planned on the spot. “It was wonderful to watch her work. We’d be in a rehearsal mode, where you look at details and joke around, and when it was time to sing she would go to the mike and suddenly give herself up to the music.” Adds Ben-Hur modestly: “The whole thing was under Leny’s leadership-the arrangements, the tempos, the selection of the songs. I was really a sideman. I was there for the ride.”

That spring they premiered the material at Rockwood Music Hall on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. They reconvened at a studio in Teaneck, New Jersey, where Ben-Hur lives, to record two more Jobim songs: “Dindi” and “Ana Luisa,” which she chose in honor of Ben-Hur’s daughter of the same name.

Andrade’s story is told in a new biography by Regina Ribas, Leny Andrade: Alma Mia (Colesao Aplauso Musica). Starting at around the age of five, the Rio-born singer followed the bidding of her mother, a classical piano teacher, and began a decade of formal piano study. But popular music won her heart, and in her mid-teens she began singing in a nightclub with a band led by her brother, a reed player. A year later, in 1959, Andrade’s calling became clearer when she heard the scatting of Dolores Duran, a Fitzgerald-inspired Brazilian singer and lyricist. Soon Andrade was singing at Beco das Garrafas, Copacabana’s fabled cradle of Brazilian jazz, with a trio led by pianist Sergio Mendes, the future founder of Brasil ’66.

Andrade burst on the recording scene in 1961 with the RCA album A Sensacao (The Sensation); since then she has made over thirty albums and gained renown throughout Latin America – notably in Mexico, where she lived for five years. In 2007, Andrade shared a Latin Grammy Award with one of Brazil’s great pianists and arrangers for their CD, Leny Andrade & Cesar Camargo Mariano ao Vivo [Live]. Andrade has developed a loyal North American following, and sings regularly at Birdland and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York, among other U.S. venues.



Artist News

May 11, 2016

Leny Andrade, “The Ella Fitzgerald of Brazil,” began her week long run [ More ]

October 5, 2015

The new album ‘Alegria de Viver’ from legendary Brazilian vocalist Leny Andrade [ More ]

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