blog
... Brisas do Brasil...

 




 

upcoming performances

2017

Sunday June 25th
Double-Trio House Concert with Bal du Kor
3:00-5:30pm

Thursday July 13th
Summer Concert Series
6:00-7:00pm

Saturday August 5th 
5:45-7:30pm

2018


Monday January 22nd
7:15-8:15pm


quotes

. . . "exquisitely ear-stretching music.
BRISAS do BRASIL wrapped us in immersed us in
sweet lilting melodies
and unique interpretations of samba and jazz.
The versatility and musical mastery of the performers
was remarkable.
I have rarely come away from a concert having felt so enriched
or my ears so sensuously stimulated..."

— John Steere, 
host of the Webster Haven House Concert Series, 
                   following their March 11th, 2017 performance

 

"Mary D'Orazi's voice took us on a magical,
lyrical journey through samba.
She was supported on percussion by the amazing Greg German, 
and rounded out by the impressive keyboard
work of Michael Smolens."

—Anne W. Emerick, 
producer of Wisteria Ways House Concert Series
following the group's October 8th, 2016 performance

 

"Incredible, just incredible.  Very high level of
creativity and musicianship..."

Andy Robbins,
Music Coordinator of Oakland Center for Spiritual Living


“Our residents loved the music provided by
Brisas do Brasil, and many a toe were tapping
as they played. The music is so smooth and jazzy,
and can easily take the listener away to the sounds
and shores of Brazil. It’s bossa nova at its very best.”


—Susan Codeglia,
Wellness Coordinator
Bryon Park, Walnut Creek


"I got very positive feedback from your trio's performance.
Evocative..."

—Amanda Kerr,
Life Enrichment Manager
Stoneridge Creek Retirement Community, Pleasanton

 

  "Your recent performance with Brisas was just great.  
Very well received by my residents!"


Melanie Bazan, Personal Expressions Manager
Carlton Plaza of Fremont


description

Brisas do Brasil creates an exciting and tropical environment, serving up intricate original arrangements of Bossa Nova and Samba, refreshing the listener with its constantly shifting textures. The trio features sublime compositions by the Brazilian master Antonio Carlos Jobim (The Girl From Ipanema, Desafinado), along with gems by Sergio Mendez, Toninho Horta, Milton Nascimento, Edu Lubo, Guniga, and Aecio Flavio, plus evocative original works.

Vocalist Mary D'Orazi effortlessly traverses between English and Portuguese, often within the same song.  Percussionist Greg German combines traditional Brazilian and jazz percussion with verve and romantic sweetness. Keyboardist/arranger Michael Smolens magically imitates a nylon-string guitar and acoustic bass with uncanny accuracy while adding alto flute, melodica, and voice to the mix.

 

audio samples

Wave (A.C. Jobim / samba in 7) 1:39
Mary - voice; Michael - keyboard; Greg - drum set

Rio Rescue (M. Smolens / samba in 3) 2:02
Mary - voice; Michael - keyboard; Greg - drum set

O Morro Nao Tem Vez (A.C. Jobim / samba in 4) 2:09
Mary - voice; Michael - alto flute; Greg - cajon & tambourin

The Look Of Love (B. Bacharach / pop ballad) 1:33
Mary - voice; Michael - keyboard; Greg - drum set

[all arrangements by M. Smolens]

 

history of performances

2017

Saturday March 11th
Webster Haven House Concert Series, Oakland
Double-Trio House Concert with Bal du Kor

2016

Saturday October 8th
Wisteria Ways House Concert Series, Oakland

Tuesday August 30th
Oakmont of Concord, Concord

Monday February 8th
Piedmont Gardens

2015

Sunday October 25th
Oakland Center For Spiritual Living

Thursday July 16th
Carlton Senior Living, Fremont
Summer Concert Series

Wednesday June 24
Rossmoor Concert Series, Lafayette

2014

Saturday June 26th
Carlton Senior Living, Fremont
Summer Concert Series

Saturday, May 31st
Varenna Center, Santa Rosa

Saturday, March 8th
Stoneridge Creek, Pleasanton

2013

Sunday June 23rd
Byron Park, Walnut Creek
Brazil Party

 

school outreach

Our Ensemble members are not only compelling performers, 
but also highly experienced teachers in both private and classroom settings. We will guide your students through 
Brazilian music, from the classic bossa-novas of Antonio Carlos Jobim (1960s) to more contemporary sambas along with original songs utilizing that tradition. 
(The Music Director has been teaching since 1974)

For K-9 presentations in a typical 50-minute time block,
we have found that performing four pieces works best. 
Because each member of our ensemble plays different instruments
keyboard (nylon-string guitar, bass, & electric piano sounds), 
alto flute and voice;
voice (both in English & Portuguese) and shaker; and
drum set/percussion (panderiocajon, & tamborim)
we allot ample time to demonstrate and explain each one.

We also field questions from the students, drawing from each of our performers' rich backgrounds. For our music-specific high school and college presentations, we present a detailed overview of different approaches to arranging and composing, including our choice of instrumentation and how the Portuguese language affects the rhythmic posture of the music.

 

bios

Michael Smolens (arranger/composer, keyboard, alto flute, voice)
Michael Smolens has been accompanying and arranging for many leading Bay Area vocalists, including: Raz Kennedy, David Worm, Bryan Dyer, Ernie Shelton, Rhiannon, Shea Breaux-Wells, Katy Stephan, Biaja Solomon, Karen Blixt, along with Pragmavision recording and touring icon, Claudia Schmidt. His original works have been recorded by Stefon Harris (vibes), Paul McCandless & Gene Burkert (reeds/flutes), Zakir Hussain (tabla), and has been commissioned by Meet The Composer, Bernard Osher Foundation, the Occidental Choir, Unity Church, and numerous artists in the Bay Area and New York. Michael leads five other ensembles that feature his compositions—the vocal Mirabai Ensemble, KRIYA Octet, earPlay Jazzquintet, Nuvo Chamber Trio, and the West-African Bal du Kor trio. He has been teaching a wide variety of instruments and voice since 1974 and coaching other teachers since 2000.

Mary D'Orazi (voice, percussion)
Mary’s warm, lyrical, mezzo soprano voice can color melodies across various genres. When she sings a jazz tune, her clear, rich, round tone, rhythmic sensibility and thoughtful phrasing fit into the ensemble that she interacts with. On a rhythmically complex, highly syncopated Brazilian song, her vocal lightness and flexibility come into play. In vocal harmony, singing jazz or pop, she has the aural sensitivity to blend, nuance and dance with other voices. San Francisco Bay Area solo performances include: Jazz at Filoli, Jazz at Peace, Montclair Jazz and Wine Festival, Rockridge Jazz & Wine Stroll, Sonoma Arts Guild Art Show, Café Claude, Hotel Donatello, Jupiter Restaurant, Bread and Roses volunteer performer and private functions. Oakland Jazz Choir, 1996-2009: Solo and small ensemble and choir performances included Yoshi’s, Kimballs East, Great American Music Hall, The JazzSchool, San Francisco Jazz Festival, Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, 142 Throckmorton Theater, Grass Valley Center for the Arts and more.

Greg German (drum set, cajon, pandeiro)
Greg German has been playing music in one form or another for most of his life.  After years of playing tenor saxophone and guitar, he found his way to the drum set at the relatively "late" age of 23.  He has studied drums privately with Eddie Marshall, Pete Magadini and Alan Hall.  Over the last twenty plus years, he has been performing with SF Bay Area bands that run the spectrum from pop and rock to latin and Brazilian and jazz in it's many varieties.  He has recorded with numerous groups including Terrence Brewer, Makeshift Ensemble, The Blue & Tan, Humanistic, Ben Stolorow, The Oakland Jazz Choir, Gerald Beckett, Marcos Silva, Steve McQuarry and Resonance.  He has also performed with other distinguished artists such as Madeline Eastman, Claudia Villela, Benny Rietveld (Miles Davis, Santana), Mingus Amungus, Fillmore Jazz Preservation Big Band, Mandala Orchestra, Yancie Taylor, Anne Sajdera, Stephanie Crawford and Muziki Roberson.