"I think music more than
everything is a choice. I think it was like a mission. I chose
music, and music chose me to spread this around."
the most lyrical and appealing elements of jazz, pop, blues and
Brazilian music, Tania Maria's vibrant voice, brilliant piano
work and outstanding performances have made an artist of
increasing international popularity.
Without doubt, the true essence of Tania Maria is best
experienced in her "live" performances.
Europe, Tania's latest release, admirably demonstrates
this by capturing her creative spontaneity and ability to
improvise and stretch out on such familiar songs as "Funky
Tambourim". Recorded across Europe between 1991 and 1993
with three different groups of musicians, including such
heavyweights as Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson and Sammy Figueroa,
these are quality sound recordings "in the raw" - with
no editing or studio embellishments. These are simply recording
of Tania Maria performance best.
Brazilian-born Tania Maria has been a leader since the tender age
of 13, when her band of professional musicians, organized by her
father, won first prize in a local music contest and went on to
play for dances, in clubs and on the radio. Her father, a metal
worker and a gifted guitarist and singer, had encouraged her to
study piano so that she could play in his weekend jam sessions,
where she first absorbed the rhythms and melodies of samba, jazz,
pop music and Brazilian chorinho. Since then, she has never
worked in anyone else's group. Exposed early to the artistry of
Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Luiz Eca, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O'Day,
Tom Jobim and Milton Nascimento, she developed her own masterful
synthesis of what she heard an effervescent style of piano work
and rapid-tongued vocals in arrangements that fuse Brazilian
rhythms and Caribbean salsa with the improvised expression that
is the heart of American jazz.
Her family was poor. Her 4 sisters, also musically inclined,
followed their mother's prudent warnings against making careers
of such inclinations and entered the fields of dentistry,
psychology, engineering and advertising. Tania Maria spent 2
years studying for a law degree, married and started a family,
but by the mid '70s she had answered a calling that seems to have
been waiting for her since her birth. She committed herself to
performing again, moving to Sao Paulo where she sang and studied
Her nightlife soon led her to Paris, her home base for several
years, where she recorded several albums. At a concert in
Australia, her formidable musical precision and freewheeling
spirit caught the attention of American guitarist Charlie Byrd,
who recommended her to Carl Jefferson, head of Concord Records.
"Even then", Byrd recalls, "she put her own
stamp on music. I was very impressed, Tania Maria's first America
album, 'Piquant', earned jazz critic Leonard Feather's Golden
Although 6 years of classical study underlie her solid pianistic
technique, Tania Maria's highly praised vocal skills came
naturally, "I'm Brazilian", she says, "and
singing is the greatest tradition we have!". Well known
for ebullient scat singing, she indetifies herself primarily as a
pianist. "I play percussion on my piano", she
explains, rather than smooth runs up and down scales. And she
often scats in unison or harmony with the notes that flow from
her touch, soaring beyond the constraints of words. "The
first person that I heard that did this was a Brazilian, Sivuca,
and he did this with the accordion, the same thing that George
Benson does with his guitar. So I was thinking, it they can do it
with the accordion and guitar, why can't I do it with the piano?
For me it's so easy in one way it's my trademark. You know
somehow that Tania Maria is passing by!"
"There's a kind of musician that utilizes the music to
pass their lyrics, because the message is not in the music, the
messages is in their lyrics. I don't think I'm that kind of
person. When I do my improvisations, I have the impression that I
am saying something. The music conducts me to a certain space and
a certain message."
"In our day, the less you talk, the more you do. I'm a
little tired to listen to politicians say, oh, 'Read my lips'.
It's better for me to boop-be-doo-boop-be-ooh-boo - then it's
difficult to read my lips!".
Based in New York since the '80s, this extraordinary improviser
best known for her fiery interpretation of Brazilian, Afro-Latin,
Pop and Jazz Fusion, in a style that is uniquely her own. Tania
has played virtually every important Jazz Festival in the world
and has appeared on countless television and radio programmes.
Tania has recorded 19 albums and in 1985 was nominated for a
Grammy Award in the category "Best Jazz Vocal Performance -
Female Artist". In 1995 Tania performed at prestigious
venues like The Blue Note and famous festivals like Saratoga Jazz
Festival, New Orleans Heritage Festival, etc... all over the
world. When she chooses to perform live, everyone, including
Tania Maria, is in for a joyful celebration of "the colors
of people, the many different sounds of people". She tells
us "When I play, I have the possibility to be 80 percent
more on the side of happiness. The other 20 percent, it's up to
the public to put in!".
Biography courtesy of ERIC
KRESSMANN, Tania Maria's exclusive agent