Yuko's Brazilian Jazz

Bruce Von Stiers

Sometimes jazz albums have a specific theme, other times not so much. One such themed album is Esperanca. It is from vocalist Yuko Ito and has a Brazilian jazz theme.

Even though she is a jazz vocalist, Yuko didn't start out that way. The Tokyo native had a girl rock band called Sissy Boy. The band recorded two albums that were pretty well received. But Yuko decided to expand her musical horizons and came to the U.S. to realize her future ambitions. While working on a B.F.A. at City College of New York, a singing opportunity blossomed into performances with the Harlem Gospel Choir. Yuko also began to have singing gigs at venues such as Lenox Lounge, Tomi Jazz and Jazz at Kitano.

Along the way of her musical journey Yuko gained a passion for the Brazilian styling of jazz. That passion cumulated in two top tiered albums, Mani De Voce and O Cantador. With this new album, Yuko continues her love and passion of Brazilian jazz.

Yuko had some great musicians to help out on the album. Helio Alves was on piano for most of the songs on the album. Michika Fukomori played piano on a few others. Edward Perez provided bass and Alexandre Kautz was on drums and percussion. Richard Miller played guitar for several songs. Romero Lubambo played guitar on a couple of songs as well as percussion and backing vocals on them. Oriente Lopez played flute on three of the songs and Luisa Lubambo provided vocals on one song.

Some of the songs are sung in Portuguese, others in English. The first song is done in Portuguese. It is a beautifully lyrical song called Vera Cruz. Not only are the vocals great, there is a terrific flute solo.

Moon River is a song that many vocalists include in their repertoire. Yuko does a fine job on the album with her rendition of the Henry Mancini classic.

The song So Danco Samba is a light a smile effecting samba song. Yuko does a nice job with this Jobim classic.

There is some nice guitar in the gentle, yet somewhat sad tone of Manha De Carnaval.

The pace picks back up with the toe- tapping sound of Owari No Nai Kistetu. It is an original song written and arranged by Yuko.

Madelena is a moderately paced tune with a sort of samba styling.

Other songs on the album include Comecar De Novo and Ponta De Areia.

VIvencia / Obsession has some great flute. Yuko sings the last part of the song in English.

Tsubasa Wo Kudasai has a toe tapping beat. There is a really nice piano solo in the middle of the song.

The title track, Esperanca, is a guitar based tune. The song is light and easy with terrific vocals. Yuko also wrote this song.

One of the songs that is often covered on jazz vocals albums is What A Wonderful World. Yuko does a wonderful job with her rendition of the song.

Another great song on the album is Stolen Water. It was written by Daniel Giel, who not only is a songwriter but dancer and choreographer. He is featured in Yuko's music video for the song. It is a moderately paced song about is about wanting someone who is spoken for. It is a bit different that the other songs on the album. But I really liked it.

Although I didn't understand the lyrics in some of the songs on the album, I did enjoy Esperanca. Yuko Ito has terrific vocals and the musicians on the album did a great job. As for the two classics, Moon River and What A Wonderful, they were nice additions to the Brazilian themed album. And I already mentioned how well I liked Stolen Water.

Esperanca can be found at CD Baby and other music retailers.

Yuko Ito's official web site is http://www.yukosings.com/ . There you can learn more about Yuko and watch the music video of Stolen Water.

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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers