The connection between the Brazilian singer Paula Morelenbaum and Bossa Nova is as tight as can be imagined. In the past for ten years she had been part of the legendary band "Novada Banda" of the even more legendary Bossa star Antônio Carlos Jobim, presently she herself is regarded as a synonym for the essence of Bossa.
Her current album, "Telecoteco" has recently been published in Europe by Skip Records. On this CD Morelenbaum soulfully celebrates her music together with her band and illustrious guests like her husband Jaques Morelenbaum and Marcos Valle.
Carina Prange talked to Paula Morelenbaum for Jazzdimensions
Carina: Your musical style is Bossa Nova. But what exactly is Bossa Nova? What is the essential about itis it something in the music or is it a way of looking at life?
Paula: For this I'd like to cite the great Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes: Bossa Nova is a mood, an atmosphere, a state of mind. I think the renown of Bossa-Nova is marked by an extremely modern and melodic approach, dissonant chords, bolder lyrics and a very cool rhythm that results in a high level of sophisticated music.
So, the essential about Bossa Nova is something in the music plus a way of this music looking at life.
Carina: Which part of your personality is best reflected in your music? Or, to put it in other words, how big is the "Bossa Nova part" in Paula Morelenbaum? And are there other styles, too, hidden there?
Paula: My whole life reflects in my music. Everything I do, everything I see... Bossa Nova is so big in me that it's very difficult to imagine my life without it. I used to listen to Bossa Nova, since I was born because my father, an architect, used to play acoustic guitar when I was a child. So Bossa-Nova sounds very familiar for me. Many years later, to start to sing with Antônio Jobim, that was a dream come true! If this rhythm didn't exist in the world, probably I'd sing Blues or Jazz, mixing with samba... that means Bossa Nova!
Carina: If you're touring Germany, do mostly Brazilians come to your showsand Germans who are already Bossa aficionados? Or do you perceive a curiosity, that people want to learn about what you do, want to get involved?
Paula: I think in my concerts in Germany I'll meet Brazilian people. But a great part of the audience I believe will be Germans"Bossa aficionados", like you saidand also curious people interested in Brazilian good music. And of course, people that like me.
Carina: Is there a difference to concerts in Brazilwhere do people dance more, for example?
Paula: I don't think there's a difference. Well, Brazilian people dance corresponding to the music… On the other hand all people dance corresponding to the music! (laughs)
Carina: A look back - when did you start to sing and who were your teachers?
Paula: I started to sing in a group called "Céu da Boca", that had its origin in a choir. At the same time when I decided to become a singer in this group and go professional, I started to take singing classes with many different teachers in Brazil and in New York. Before I sang there, I used to study classical piano.
Carina: Which songs on "Telecoteco" tell stories which you can relate especially to your life-or maybe to other young Brazilian women of your generation?
Paula: I love all the album, each single song! The electronic sounds and the infinite possibilities we could use them for. Since "Berimbaum", my previous album, I've been employed programming and samples, and the "Telecoteco" songs were live-recordings that we worked on later using programming and effects. I think this is also a way to get together with the young fan generation, talking the same language.
Carina: Did you have a completed picture of the album in mind when you picked the songs? Did the title come first? What's the story behind it all?
Paula: I wanted to knowand then show to everybodywhich kind of songs have exerted wide influence in the generation of Bossa-Nova's creators. Therefore I did a profound research on the "Brazilian Popular Music" from the 40s and 50s periods, for to later on re-create all of these within a modern concept framework, integrating acoustic and electronic sounds.
The word "Telecoteco" is an onomatopoeia, a formation of words in imitation of natural sounds. That, in this case is the sound of a tambourine! "Telecoteco" also was a slang word from the 50s that means "swing". You could use it for music or people, like: "This samba has 'telecoteco'!" Or: "This girl has 'telecoteco'!" Years later, it was substituted by the word "bossa". These meanings enchanted me, and I thought it could be a great title for an album that will be released in many countries, with many different languages.
Carina: For you to want to interpret it, what does a song have to have? Or maybe, what should it not have?
Paula: In the case of "Telecoteco" the song has to have some relation with the Bossa Nova style… It should not be too sad, for instance.
Carina: Did you think about writing songs on your ownand have you done that already? Or is singing already absorbing enough?
Paula: Sometimes I make some sketch of a lyric or even of a music. But it is necessary to have a lot of time to make a good work. We have to commit ourselves. Because of this, I always sing songs written by somebody else. In arranging and producing I found an appropriate way for me...
Carina: You were, together with your husband, part of the band "Nova Banda" of Antônio Carlos Jobim for his last ten years. What was the most important insights you gained from working with Jobim during that periodfor your career, about music, maybe about life?
Paula: There were many impressive episodes in my life, being so close to Antônio Carlos Jobim. Musically, I'm thankful that I could live intensely his sophisticate music and be part of his way of creation. This still has a very big influence on me until now. In my life in general, I remember a moment that was of great joy for me: having a walk with him for amusement at "Jardim Botanico Park", here in Rio de Janeiro.
Antônio loved to be close to nature, and the environment subject always was a central part of his life and art. In that park, he always stopped to listen to the sound of the birds. And he knew the names of all of themand of all the trees! Since that day, every time that I walk in this beautiful place, I remember those times we've been together there.
Carina: How does the present Bossa Nova look like without Jobim's work?
Paula: Well, unfortunately Jobim isn't with us anymore. And excepting for Carlos Lyra, João Donato, Roberto Menescal and Marcos Valle, the great Bossa Nova composers are not producing anymore. Because of this, the magic of the Bossa Nova's genuine atmosphere is slowly disappearing.
CD: Paula Morelenbaum - "Telecoteco" (Skip Records SKP 9096)
Paula Morelenbaum im Internet: www.paulamorelenbaum.com.br
Skip Records im Internet: www.skiprecords.com