Melodia Week: the Los Angeles Tribute to Luiz Melodia, will honor the memory of the legendary Brazilian singer and songwriter Luiz Melodia who passed away on August 4, 2017, a celebration presented by Brazilla Music Collective, a cultural machine aimed at fostering and presenting the pinnacle of Brazilian excellence in California. Produced by cultural maverick Vera Ludmila and former head at the Cultural Division of the Brazilian Consulate Floriano Regis.

Melodia’s musical partner and director, guitarrist Renato Piau is coming all the way from Brazil to join this exclusive event. 

The celebratory week, March 18th to 25th, 2018, will be rounded out by a radio show hosted by Sergio Mielniczenko at KPFK, a special DJ set by Thalma de Freitas at Amoeba, a livestream open rehearsal at Kulak’s Woodshed and two cornerstone tribute concerts. 

Thursday, March 22 an intimist jazz tribute will take place at the Blue Whale. This program will be music directed by guitarist and keyboardist Mika Mutti (Sergio Mendes, Jamie Foxx) and features guitarist, singer, songwriter and arranger Renato Piau; bassist John Leftwich (Carmen McRae, Dizzy Gillespie); cellist Artyom Manukyan (Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run DMC, Tigran Hamasyan; Armenian Navy Band with Arto Tuncboyaciyan), and drummer and percussionist Michael Shapiro (Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Sergio Mendes).

The second concert tribute takes place on Saturday, March 24 at 8 pm at Zebulon Café Concert,  music directed by guitarist and arranger Denys Cristian. The program features singers Thalma de Freitas (Orquestra Imperial); Carla Hassett (“Rio”, Sergio Mendes, Billy Idol); Sônia Santos (Brasil Brazil); Emina Shimanuki (MôForró, Samba Society, Viver Brasil 20 at the Ford Theatres), and Jessica Jeza Vautor ( resident performer at the “Blue Whale”).

The band formed by guitarrist Renato Piau; percussionist Steve Thornton (Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock), percussionist Léo Costa (Sergio Mendes, “Rio”) pianist Mika Mutti (Sergio Mendes, John Legend), saxophonist Randal Fisher (Ethio Cali); bassist André de Sant’anna (Jason Mraz and Sergio Mendes); percussionist Gibi Dossantos (Viver Brasil, Sergio Mendes, Airto Moreira), and violinist, mandolinist, and composer Ted Falcon (Jambrosia, Gypsy Jazz Club).

“Luiz Melodia is one of the most talented Brazilian singer-songwriters from Rio de Janeiro. His powerful compositions fluently blended elements from samba, rock, jazz, blues, soul and reggae, and his soulful and unique voice made him one of the most authentic and captivating artists in performance,” says Floriano Regis.

Ludmila adds, “Melodia didn’t belong to any specific genre, he transcended all of them. So I decided the best way to honor the impact that this Brazilian artist has had on music was to gather the best artists representing different musical traditions to perform the Melodia songs that have moved them the most.”

 photo: daryan dornelles

photo: daryan dornelles

About the Artist,

Born “Luis Carlos dos Santos,” Luiz Melodia grew up in the slum of São Carlos, known as the “cradle of samba,” discovering music through his father, the master sambista Osvaldo Melodia, who always played at home. At age 13, he had formed his first band, Os Instantâneos. While Melodia came from samba and had clearly inherited his father’s gift for it, already as a teenager the young musician was looking to and incorporating outside influences, including Bossa Nova and the Jovem Guarda-style, into his music.

Nelson Motta, a leading music critic in Brazil said in 2011 about Luiz Melodia, “Melodia renovated samba and Brazilian music with his original compositions and sophisticated melodies. He understood the sound of words is even more important than their definition. In addition to his songwriting talent, he has one of the most beautiful voices in our music, with a voice both raspy and velvety, impregnated with black music. And he’s a great interpreter of other people’s songs. Musical critics have always been surprised by him, but never knew how to define him: ‘sambista’, a rock star or a blues man, he’s all that and more. His musicality and originality defy labels, trends and time.”

In 1972, Melodia was noticed by the Bahia poet Waly Salomão who went to San Carlos looking for compositions for the Brazilian singer Gal Costa. Costa recorded his song “Pérola Negra,” and, shortly after, another leading artist Maria Bethânia released his “Estácio, Holly Estácio”.

Melodia began using his stage name ‘Luiz Melodia’ around the time his debut album, Pérola Negra, was released in 1973. While not a commercial success, Pérola Negra went on to be ranked 32 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Brazilian albums. Wrote Folha de São Paulo, one of the largest newspapers in Brazil, about Pérola Negra in its Melodia obituary “The album is still impressive to this day. It is so mature and flows with innovative musical ideas, with youthful vigor carefully disguised as a refined piece.” 

Melodia’s sophomore album, Maravilhas Contemporâneas, pushed Melodia even more into the public eye, especially after one of its songs “Juventude Transviada” was included in the soundtrack of the telenovela “Pecado Capital.”

Even as he enjoyed success, Melodia remained an indomitable artist. He knew what he wanted and made no concessions to outside pressures. He did not allow intrusions in his repertoire or arrangements.

Recalls Piau, “There is nothing common in Melodia’s creations, his language as a poet was unorthodox. For example, his songs do not have a chorus, because he did not like them.”

Throughout his career, Melodia released sixteen albums and performed extensively on important stages around the world, including in Châteauvallon, France (1987); at the III Folcalquier Music Festival (1992, France), at the Montreux Jazz Festival (on the banks of Lake Geneva, Switzerland in 2004), and in the Brazilian Summer Sessions at the traditional jazz house Bimhuis in Amsterdam. He sang “Aquele Abraço” at the Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. His last studio recording, entitled Zerima, recorded after a 13 year hiatus won him the MPB Award (Brazilian Popular Music) in the category Best Singer. He remained an active performer until his passing, in 2017, from bone marrow cancer.

“Luiz Melodia has shown that it is worth investing in your soul and making music with feeling, without making concessions”, says Hyldon who played guitar on the track “Pra aquietar” from Pérola Negra. “He did what he felt in his heart and that’s why he was so respected.”

[Source: Revista Cult by Helô D’Ângelo and newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, translated by Jéssica Beleza.]