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Os Clavelitos - Arriving

Chieko Honda (vocals); Anthony Lanni (guitar, backing vocals); Dan Kendall (bass, cavaquinho, accordion, backing vocals); Livio Almeida (tenor & soprano sax, and flute); Uka Gameiro (drums, percussion); Arei Sekiguchi (percussion).





Os Clavelitos - Arriving

Chieko Honda (vocals); Anthony Lanni (guitar, backing vocals); Dan Kendall (bass, cavaquinho, accordion, backing vocals); Livio Almeida (tenor & soprano sax, and flute); Uka Gameiro (drums, percussion); Arei Sekiguchi (percussion).

  1. Eunice

  2. Arriving

  3. Profondo Blu

  4. Dewberry

  5. Unrest of Mind

  6. Frost

  7. Oblivion

  8. Tom Cruise Samba

  9. Sands of Memories

  10. Fiumerapido

  11. Afrose

  12. Eunice Reprise

Recorded at One Soul Studios, NYC 2016


Ever since the BBC’s recent documentary ‘The Girl From Ipanema: Brazil, Bossa Nova and the Beach’ where Katie Derham meets Carlos Lyra, Roberto Menescal, Joyce, Daniel Jobim and Marcos Valle; the bossa beat has been directing my music searches. Os Clavelitos (“Little Carnations”) is a NYC based American Samba band that combines traditional Brazilian rhythms (samba, baiao, bossa nova, and frevo, occasionally gesturing towards the more familiar bolero and cha-cha beats) with English lyrics. This fresh album, responds to the hip-swaying call with charm, sensuousness and frivolity. In all twelve tracks, the band members each share their diverse cultural influences that range from American composer and guitarist (Anthony Lanni), to Japanese percussion and vocals (Arei Sekiguchi and Chieko Honda), to Brazilian drummer (Uka Gameiro).

The CD opens with Eunice. At 2.26, this piece makes way for Caribbean whistles and African beats that form a lively interlude lasting approximately 50 seconds (this is picked up in the final track Eunice Reprise). This is a pattern that recurs in numerous tracks and is a welcomed feature that gives Os Clavelitos its originality and youthfulness. The overall sound of Os Clavelitos is driven by a strong drum and hand percussion section. Arei Sekiguchi (percussion) and Dan Kendall (bass) provide great folkloric drive and rhythm that provides a samba groove for Livio Almeida (tenor & soprano and flute) to improvise to. Indeed, Almedia’s flute solo on the Fiumerapido (Track 10) is played in a sprightly tempo that shows off Almedia’s sparking imagination. His slow solo in Profondo Blu (Track 3) is mellow, contemplative and clean, suggestive Almedia’s confident and erudite musicianship. For Frost (Track 6), Lanni riffs off the James Bond theme and Almeida (on flute) adds to the cool, mysterious atmosphere of a song whose lyrics are edgy and darkly alluring:

Blood runs cold
Frost burns my eyes
Freeze my eyes.

During this song, Honda demonstrates great pitch and vocal control. Her enunciation remains clear and she is also able to tell the story of each song with feeling and intent.

Unfortunately, I feel the CD is let down by two tracks. First, Afrose (Track 11) is somewhat too sentimental as it opens with wind chimes and contains the lines “Believe in the promise of today” sung by Honda (with Lanni, Tosh Sheridan and Patrick Lo Le on backing vocals). Thankfully, the piece is partially saved by Almeida’s great solo on soprano sax. Secondly, I don’t mean to sound ‘traditional’, but I can’t help but express my doubts over a song, however ironical it may be, about Tom Cruise. Yet, Tom Cruise Samba (Track 8) asks us to do mission impossible and enjoy a song about Tom Cruise, without feeling as though you’re listening to a jazz band on a cruise. Again, Almeida’s saxophone (this time tenor) solo is a welcomed interlude in a song that announces: “It’s Hollywood’s golden child from Syracuse / Whose every step makes international … news” and cringingly calls the sun a star that “shines for you, Tom Cruise”. On a more positive note, at 3.25 during Oblivion (Track 7), Lanni supplies a tempting guitar rhythm for Almeida to sit his rich and sassy tenor sax improvisation on top of. In the last few minutes of this track, which is also beautifully sung by Honda, the whole band come together to create a memorable outro.

Throughout the album, Anthony Lanni (guitar) and Dan Kendall (bass) create a thoughtful frame of shifting harmonic phrases to fit in and around Chieko Honda’s sensuous melodies. In these songs, Os Claveilitos shares tales of love, sadness and introspection to create a well-rounded, pleasing album.

Lucy Jeffery

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