The untranslatable saudades is at the heart of the ineffably beautiful and beckoning heart of this music by the pianist and vocalist Abelita Mateus. Miss Mateus is the epitome of Paulista-cool and this is especially reflected in the four contributions that she brings to this remarkable date. She is a new resident of New York City and one can fully grasp the extent of her longing for her beloved Brasil, which she carries in every breath she takes as she enunciates the words of the songs on Vivenda, accompanying herself on piano and the radiant Fender Rhodes keyboard from time to time.
Although Miss Mateus suggests that her mission is to “immerse (herself) in the Jazz scene” it appears that she is feeling, happily, very much a Brasileira and that means she is at heart a dreamer, lutadora, enterprising, desbravadora, creative, innovative, revolutionary, a conquistadora, patient… clearly words do not even begin to capture everything that this young woman is. But above all she is a magnificent musician whose delicate femininity unfolds in this music – not only in her seductive voice, but in the sinuous phrases she exhorts from the piano and the Fender Rhodes.
There are five songs by the great Djavan and so one must assume that Vivenda also pays homage to the Brasileiro who has in many ways redrawn the map of popular urban Brasilian music. However with the dreamy renditions of Djavan’s music together with the emotional stream of her own songs – especially “Saudades do Brasil” and “Família Brandão” – is palpably bittersweet. Perhaps this is because Abelita Mateus seems to have a voice born to enunciate the lyric in a palpably minor mode even when she is singing in a major key. She probably does so by letting the words and the music speak to the deepest recesses in her heart, where the blood and the nerves mix together.
Remarkably also Abelita Mateus is completely at home with the veteran musicians who accompany her on this special journey. Musicians such as Claudio Roditi and Romero Lubambo bring a sort of grey eminence to “Discussão-Brigas Nunca Mais” and “Esquinas”. Fantastically seductive singing comes from a very big-hearted Abelita Mateus, while the rest of the musicians – including Itaiguara Brandão, Adriano Santos, Portinho and Phillip Gillette (when they are there) bring out all the music’s heavy-lidded beauty and immense charm which comes across magnificently in each of the eleven songs.
It is difficult to recall a debut recording by any artist that has such a lasting impact on the mind’s ear (and therefore) the memory as well.
Track list – 1: Vivenda; 2: Capim; 3: Discussão-Brigas Nunca Mais; 4: Saudades do Brasil; 5: Esquinas; 6: Avião; 7: Obi; 8: Pedro Brasil; 9: Amor Até o Fim; 10: Acorda João; 11: Família Brandão
Personnel – Abelita Mateus: piano, Fender Rhodes and vocals; Claudio Roditi: trumpet (3 – 5); Romero Lubambo: guitar (1 – 8, 10, 11); Itaiguara Brandão: bass (1, 3 – 10); Adriano Santos: drums (1, 3, 5, 10); Portinho: drums (4, 9); Phillip Gillette: percussion (1, 10, 11)
Released – 2017
Label – Vivenda Music
Runtime – 50:22