EDISON®2020 Award-winning, GRAMMY®2021 & Latin GRAMMY®2020 Award-Nominated Project

DOWNBEAT’s BEST JAZZ RECORDS OF 2020

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Line up

Maria Mendes (vocals, compositions and arrangements)

John Beasley (arranger, pianist, producer, orchestra’s conductor)

Orchestra (Chamber line up – 25 musicians) or Big Band 

Rhythm section: Cedric Hanriot (piano), Jasper Somsen (acoustic bass), Jasper van Hulten (drums, percussion)

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The Story

This project features 10 songs – all arranged/orchestrated to BIG BAND and CHAMBER ORCHESTRA by Portuguese GRAMMY® & Latin Grammy® Award-nominated Jazz vocalist/composer Maria Mendes and GRAMMY® Award-winner & Latin Grammy® Award-nominated jazz arranger/pianist/producer John Beasley.

Four songs have been recorded with the multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning Metropole Orkest on Mendes’s newest album Close To Me (2019, Justin Time records). This music is an adventurous love letter to Mendes’s homeland of Portugal. Mendes and her team connect the dots between Fado and Jazz, fusing each and creating a new blend that has never been heard before – a new musical appetite that stirs the listener’s soul.

The lyrical characteristics of the famous Portuguese folk music style Fado are dramatic love stories and ‘saudade’ -Saudade is the Portuguese name for deep feelings of nostalgia and a profound desire for a loved one who is forever gone. These themes remain intact with the new compositions and Jazz orchestrations, where Mendes expresses her vision on how Fado stands up in times of modern love. Additionally, the Brazilian living legend, composer/multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal has written a Fado song specially for Mendes and this project.

METROPOLE ORKEST: “As Metropole Orkest we are always looking to combine music styles. This project intelligently combines Fado and Jazz in a well-balanced and vibrant manner. John Beasley’s charts are rich and his work on this recording can be compared to that of a great fashion designer. Maria, her incredible voice and her songs are his muse in creating a garment that fits perfectly and makes the Metropole Orkest shine.”

JOHN BEASLEY: “Fado music needs an impressionistic voice that can express the longing and loss in these stories of melancholy. Maria Mendes surprised me with her stunning timbre of voice. She also has the charisma and personality that is needed to connect the music to the words and context of the songs.

  My heart opened up making this album “Close to Me” with Maria, her band and the voluptuous orchestral sounds from the Metropole Orkest. Maria gave me the license to reimagine these classic fado songs with modern jazz sensibilities. I was captivated by the story lines and my film-composing instinct kicked in leading me to score each song like a movie. And, with Maria’s soul-reaching voice, which is clear as a bell and can trigger a wide range of feelings, when you listen, you are left with how to handle the beauty and artistry of what you just experienced.
Listening back to the album, I hear how elastic and open minded the musicians were with our writing. They took what we wrote beyond our imagination.
With “Close to Me”, you hear two genres –fado and jazz– infusing each other creating a new blend –a new musical appetite that stirs your soul.”

Videos with
Metropole Orkest

Photos

Maria Mendes

We welcome you to contact Maria Mendes for more information.