In 2018 I travelled to Brasil while the Olypmics were happening. I was walking in my Father’s footsteps. My father, New Zealand iconic drummer Tony Hopkins who is sadly no longer with us, had travelled to Brasil some years ago with Mrs Hopkins #2, where he met and played with a talented band of Brasil musicians called Contrabanda. He also visited at Carnival time and being a drummer, was captivated with the Brasilian rhythms and the relaxed and open atmosphere.
TRAVEL TO BRASIL
My trip to Brasil, was greatly facilitated by my step-mother Myres Hopkins, who is born and bred in Brasil. Originally from Sao Paulo, she now lives in Recife. Having someone you know who knows the area and speaks the language is hugely helpful, when visiting for the first time and not knowing the language.
Before going, I connected with Contrabanda and their leader Fernando Range, who also resides in Recife at the time of this writing. Fernando is an accomplished musician, composer, arranger with an extensive career and who also teaches at the University.
PERFORMING IN BRASIL
While visiting Recife and Rio, I performed at a couple of shows and had the good fortune to be backed by Contrabanda. They knew my Father and I received such a warm welcome from them. Luckily Fernando ‘Nando’ speaks English, which helped me greatly when selecting songs for our concerts.
The wonderful thing I found out in Brasil is that the people there love jazz and they particularly like the well known jazz standards. We even had requests at our concerts for some of the more popular jazz standards and were only too happy to play for them. They were all very warm and openly appreciative.
Living in Los Angeles, the competition is tough and there are so many talented musicians. Whereas, in Brasil, they were happy to just enjoy the music.
MY HEART IN BRASIL
This was a lifetime memory type of experience for me. I fell in love with Brasil and the seemingly easy lifestyle. The home of the samba and that’s how it looked to me. People samba down the street. They haven’t got a care in the world. I wrote a song about that. More on that in another post.
While in Recife I visited friends and family, spent some time at the beach and the country, which enabled me to connect more with the people and place. I could have stayed longer, but my work back in the US needed my return.
THE BIRTH OF OUR GIRL
My friend Angela O’Neill, who leads the Outrageous8 and started Outragoeus8 Records label called me one morning, some time later and told me of her vision about doing a recoding and that it had something to do with Brasil. This was the birth of the idea and between the two of us we crafter our plan to do a remote recording with Contrabanda in Recife and record the horn section here in Los Angeles.
PRODUCTION OF GAROTA DE IPANEMA
I wanted to record something that was well known and easily accessible to a wider audience and so chose The Girl from Ipanema – Garota de Ipanema. I reached out to Nando in Recife to see if he wanted to get involved in the project with his band Contrabanda and write an arrangement for us all, which he did. And so, they recorded their parts in Brasil and sent us the audio and video. I talked to a couple of my favorite horn players here; Julie Sax and Allan Walker and they were keen. We then invited Ron Cyger who plays in the Outrageous8 and his own band Take2. Our horn section was complete and we set about recording their audio and video here in Los Angeles.
From there Angela worked with her engineer to put it all together and to complete the recording of Garota de Ipanema. We recorded my vocals in Portuguese, which I learned for the recording. Later I recorded my video down at Malibu Beach.
AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD OR STREAM
The single will be available to download and stream on all major platforms, however we do always encourage buying the download, rather than the stream, as it benefits the artists so much more.
Thank you for your time to read this article. I hope you can listen to our remake of Garota de Ipanema, such a classic bossa nova song that really put Brasil on the map as the bossa nova capital of the world, thanks to Stan Getz.
I look forward to continuing to work on and share our Brasil project. There’s a great story about the song I wrote that I will share in another post.
Kathryn, the Kiwi in LA