THE B&W MUSIC/MELT2000 Years
A performance style melding fluid phrasing, slippery jazz harmonics, and syncopation with Brazilian rhythms and folk and pop forms
The Brazilian diva’s astonishing vocal range comes close to reaching the simple beauty, ethereal quality and sensuality that Flora brings to her music. Flora sings lyrically but also sometimes wordlessly, blending her voice (often aided by electronics) with other instruments to produce one of the most haunting and distinctive sounds in modern music. “Singing live is like a voyage. By the time I open my eyes at the end of a show, I’ve flown all over the planet and I’m back there and I see everybody sweating, crying, hugging and loving. That’s a great feeling.” Flora. Married to the world famous percussionist, Airto Moreira, Flora also performed with him as a member of Fourth World who produced a number of albums for this label.
Having grown up with two ears full of Bitches Brew, most of my Jazz heroes come from the Electric Miles Davis sessions of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Through Airto Moreira’s work on Bitches Brew and her work with Chick Corea I discovered Flora Purim. Later in the 90’s I had the privilege to record some amazing albums and collaborations with and by Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, their daughter Diana and son in law Krishna Booker for the B&W Music & later MELT2000 label. More on facebook on Airto Moreira, Flora Purim & Jose Neto – the MELT 2000 Years.
FLORA & MILTON STORY
I first met Milton Nascimento in 1964, when I went to the city of Belo Horizonte to participate in the inaugural show of their first local television station, TV Itacolomi.
My career was just beginning and I could not afford to take my own trio from Rio, so I decided to go one day earlier and look for the best musicians I could find locally. When I approached O Ponto Dos Musicos (the Musician’s Station) at Avenida Affonso Pena, I looked around and tried to spot somebody that looked musical, since the place was really a bar/restaurant, where all kinds of artists would hang out.
Luck was on my side. The first person I talked to was Paulo Horta, a wonderful bass player, whose little brother Toninho was quickly becoming one of the most sought- after composer, guitar player and singer. Paulo Horta heard my story and immediately said “Don’t worry, I’ve got what you need”. In about ten minutes I was surrounded by ten or more of the top musicians in town, and among them was Milton Nascimento.
The television show went well, and I was going back to Rio very happy the next day. Right after the show, Milton, whom we affectionately call Bituca, approached me with a cassette and very shyly and humbly asked me If I could take a listen to one of his first compositions entitled “Barulho de trem “. And that was the beginning of a long lasting friendship.
In 1974, I was already in New York recording with jazz greats such as Chick Corea, Duke Pearson’s big band and one of my best friends and mentor the composer and arranger Gil Evans, when I received an invitation to sing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. My producer at the time was Orrin Keepnews and I recalled asking him if I could invite somebody that I would love to interact with musically, to go to Montreux with us. Orrin made my dream come true, Milton became my guest at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1974. He brought keyboardist and arranger Wagner Tiso and the great drummer Robertinho Silva along with him.
When we started preparations for pre-production, such as coordinating flights, rehearsals and choosing the music, I received a phone call from saxophonist Wayne Shorter. The conversation went like this, “Hi Flora, I’ve just heard you were bringing Milton Nascimento to the US and I have a proposition for you. What if we could share the costs of his flight to US, so I can use him on my next record? My budget wouldn’t allow me to do this on my own and I would really love to record some of his music”.
I had discussed the matter with Orrin Keepnews, who really fought for me with the record company, arguing that it would cut at least in half the costs of transatlantic tickets and “voila”, we won, Orrin won. From this little story, two classic albums were born. Wayne Shorter’s Native Dancer and Flora Purim’s 500 Miles High, live in Montreux.
Somebody else was born, my daughter with Airto Moreira, Diana, who had a song named after her on Wayne’s Native Dancer.