Sonidos y Mas: Carnaval with Brasil Brazil

Formed by veteran Brazilian singers Ana Gazzola and Sonia Santos, Los Angeles-based band Brasil Brazil celebrates the music of their native country with an elaborate show that includes several standards and original songs - a formula they devised when they first started the project over a decade ago as the U.S. hosted the 1994 soccer World Cup.

They have since been touring massively, appearing at various festivals around the globe with an upbeat, rhythm-filled show that narrates the history of Brazilian music through song. They have yet to make a stop in Houston, but told Rocks Off they would very much enjoy doing so.

The duo has recently released its third self-titled CD, which includes classics like "One Note Samba," and "A Felicidade" (from the soundtrack of Black Orpheus) alongside a bossa-nova take on Nirvana's "Come As You Are" and Nat King Cole's "L-O-V-E." As on previous discs, the tracks blend into each other without interruption - pretty much as they do live.

Rocks Off recently caught up with Ana Gazzola via e-mail...

Rocks Off : You've been playing together for over a decade now. How has your working relationship evolved?

Ana Gazzola : We have been playing together for 14 years exactly. We created Brasil Brazil in 1994 when the soccer world cup was here in the U.S. And Brazil won! There was a lot of interest for Brazilian music [then] and we decided to create a group that just by its name would say everything - Brasil Brazil. Brasil with an 'S,' just like we use in Brasil, and Brazil with a 'Z,' like they write Brazil all over the world.

We do have a great relationship between us, we are friends, sisters, mothers, confidantes. We are like 3 people: Sonia, Ana and Brasil Brazil. We do get along very well.

RO: You've been quite busy since releasing your new disc. How has the tour been so far?

AG: We just came back from a big tour in South America and the response was fabulous. It was a great success, and because of that we are going back to South America in March for another 15 concerts, including Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil.

RO: You made some interesting choices on the new disc - songs like Bebel Gilberto's "Bananeira," Nirvana's "Come As You Are" and an American standard, "L-O-V-E." What inspired you record those tunes?

AG: We do get inspired by different moments. "Bananeira" is a composition by [veteran bossa nova-era pianist] João Donato, a composer that we admire very much. It was our bass player's idea to put this song in the show. "Come As You Are" was an idea that I had after reading Kurt Cobain's biography. "L-O-V-E" was an idea that Sonia and myself had just by listening to Nat King Cole, also because the words are very positive and we like to add positive words to our performances.

RO: Your new disc, Brasil Brazil 3, has fewer original compositions than its predecessors. Why is that?

AG: We are singers and we love to sing. There is an universe of beautiful songs to choose from. We like to recreate songs and give them a new interpretation and a new arrangements. There are great composers and there are great singers. All my idols were great singers or great composers, not necessarily both things at once. We do have some compositions and we love the songs we wrote, but we are singers first.

RO: The current U.S. economy has been hard on performing artists. How has it affected your tours, etc.?

AG: It has affected us here in the US where we live. There are much less concerts, much less live music, much less sponsors. Unfortunately music and entertainment are the first two things that people cut from their budget in order to save money. We do hope that things will get better with our new president.

RO: Houston has a large Brazilian community, but few touring Brazilians regularly visit the city. Do you plan to play there in the near future?

AG: We would love to play in Houston. We have been trying to be part of the Houston Jazz Festival for years, but they never gave us a chance. We are sure that if this happens, [it] would be fantastic for all.

RO: What lies ahead for you as the decade comes to a close?

AG: Well, God only knows! We are releasing our 3rd [CD] this year and planning to perform in the U.S. and the the world. The next thing will be the 4th CD, which we want to record with a symphony orchestra. We do have all our releases at our Web site - check it out!

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ernest Barteldes