Vera Cruz Island
Rainbow Records | 2001
On her new album, Vera shows a great musical variety without exaggerating in what is called virtuosity. By choosing beautiful melodies as themes Vera´s found a perfect harmonic path to fit her refined drumming into the songs. You would listen to complex arrangements sounding smooth at the same time on the first track, "Vera Cruz Island" and also a right-dose-complicated-swing on "Devagar".
There is a Brazilian northeast influence on "Tererê", beautiful and heavenly melodies on "Renata", "Chamamé" and "Deep Inside" (featuring Mike Stern). The most energetic songs are the forró-rock-fusion "Reaching Another Day", the briskness of "Figão´s House" where Vera and Dennis Chambers play an instigating duet, the tenuosity and Weather Report like "Double V" (featuring Virgil Donati), the chorinho-jazz-fusion "Reverse" and the intricate "Dave" (both featuring Dave Weckl).
Vera Cruz Island is a kind of photograph album of Vera´s soul: intense, with beautiful images and full of passion for her art..
Camerati | 1995
From Brasil... Jazz, funk, and fusion of the instrumental music, Brazilian or not. "From Brasil" ... a hundred of rhythms from this country, Brazilian music, instrumental.
Solid career as instrumentalist, Vera Figueiredo summarizes in this work her best moments as instrumentalist, composer and singer too, during the period of forty months "in" studio.
Long period? Maybe, a long period if you compare to productions that rarely exceed six months. But "From Brasil" is different and justify each minute. The thirteen tracks represent part of improvisation in memorable meetings, like a photografhies album selected carefully, in wich rhythm and melody there are the same color (and it's a question of a solo work of a drummer). "From Brasil", the title track, indicates the course of next twelve tracks ( rhythm, a lot of rhythm, from Brasil, from Cuba, from Jamaica). This happens with instrumentalist that have history and make the work their own image and similarity. The treatment garanted to the compositions that she signs (the total of then) as "Ã Cara Gê", "Flores que Reggae" and "Forró com Sabor de Salsa" reflects the favoring. Improvising with her voice too, "Saudade", "O Perfume" and mainly "Estrela", insinuate promising career as singer , began in the dances of life, interpreting "The Carpenters". Photographies from the same album "O Coreto lá da Praça" and "Mr.Bakalau" stimulate. Among illustrious guests as Fred, Walmir Gil, Proveta, Cacá Malaquias, Derico Sciotti, Ed Cortês, Rubinho Chacal, Mike Fahn, Vitor Alcântara, Junior Galante, Paulinho Oliveira, Maguinho, Celso Pixinga, Faíska, Maurício de Souza, Ney Marques, Lourenço Pezutti Neto, Fernando Correa, Alex Frontera, Gê Cortes ... in "Mr. Bakalau", Vera Figueiredo shares cymbals and drums with Billy Cobham, the drummer that conquered Miles Davis, revolutionizing the concept of playing drums. Who would say that two bodies (of drummers) couldn't occupy the same place simultaneously! They can and with a lot of talent.
Remaking, polishing ... refining "Araçá" was like to extract splendor and beauty from Bossa Nova. Composition from the first solo work (Vera Figueiredo & Convidados - Baratos Afins/1990) which version gained splendor and valued arrangements.
Originally "brazilianized", "Tá Bom" is an American samba. Lover of Brazilian rhythms, the talented musician and composer Bruce Scott always was involved with brazilian musicians, inclusive with the drummer Vera Figueiredo during her stay in Los Angeles. Great!
Bass and drums ... and a perfect wedding. When Vera Figueiredo left to participate in Kali Group, Itamar Collaço was the bass player contemplated to accompany in her solo career. That's the perfect wedding.
Absolutely perfect, Itamar participated in almost all the recording sessions, proposing arrangements and compositions as "Flavia". The Maurício Marques's participation as arranger, pianist and composer has been essential too. Responsible for "From Brasil" arrangements, Mauricio talented as musician and composer signs the "Sem Rumo" track.
Listening to "From Brasil", there's no doubt that it is a question of a work from a drummer ... from a bass player, keyboards player, saxophonist, of people that don't watch time to do what like an how like : preserving the pleasure of making good music.
Vera Figueiredo & Convidados
Baratos Afins | 1990
Perfection is not impossible to be reached. Not even represents the top stage of development of a talent. At least if we are talking about Vera Figueiredo’s case – an admirable example – although really rare - of a musician that reached technical perfection a long time ago and maybe for this reason, still keeps her evaluative process. Just like Phil Woods, Keith Jarret, Sonny Rollins and Eddie Gomez. In this matter, the artistic maturity only reinforces the basics to her own conception – what has allowed Vera to develop brilliantly her uncontrollable style.
In all ways, Vera Figueiredo’s creativity can be compared, forgive me this common and simple kind of thinking, to Steve Gadd – one of the masters to whom she dedicates this album (the other revolutionary is Airto Moreira). Steve, just like Vera, is able to elaborate an unmistakable interpretation art. The coincidences don’t stop. Both don’t know what means limitations for a musical instrument, they sound perfect “clean”, and are free of traditional concepts, and finally, they reveal versatility – what nowadays is totally misunderstood as no-definition of style.
Nothing like that means that Vera tries to imitate Steve Gadd or any of her idols. On the contrary, she has just used him - one of the best drummers of the world - as a referential to elaborate her own artistic personality. Together with this inspiration, she put a lot of personal characteristics, add the Brazilian sauce and from this mixture began a brilliant career, never letting the virtuousness loses to the inconsequent exhibitionism.
A star with its own shines, real and young in our contemporary musical scenery. Vera Figueiredo studied from 75 to 77 with Rubens Barsotti, drummer of Zimbo Trio group, at the famous CLAM, in São Paulo. The same school that attended the pianist Eliane Elias with whom Vera played together, forming the groups Talismã and Bonzo. In the 80’s, Vera got the first place at a contest for the São Paulo Juvenile Orchestra, playing there for two years, most of the times under the regency of John Neschiling. At the same time, Vera was getting known at the São Paulo night, playing with different people. From Clementina de Jesus to Lucho Gatica. From Ritchie to Toninho Horta, passing by Isaurinha Garcia, Maria Creuza, João Donato and Eliete Negreiros.
After tours in Portugal and Spain. Vera formed in Brazil the group Kali, which debut album, in 86, helped her to get national projection. In that year, during Kali’s concert at Jazzmania club, in Rio de Janeiro, Vera let the public and the critics astonished, amazed with her splendid performance, enhanced by her charismatic stage presence. Despite her eminence performance, Vera only played solo in march '89, at Sesc Pompéia.
Now, as a natural consequence of successful shows as a leader band, emerges this exceptional album. Also result of this, referring to Vera’s own words: “I would like to develop a project in a new concept, more Latin, different from the fusion line of Kali”. Aiming this target, she idealized by herself all repertoire and production of the album, regretting as much as she could the overdubbing process, trying to captivate the climate of live recording. That’s the reason why a healthy sensation of spontaneously appears in all tracks – don’t get confused with carelessness.
In half of the tracks, Vera shows her side as a composer. To begin, the first track “Julinho” – “dedicated to a friend that has already demonstrated a lot of friendship”. Stimulated by attractive rhythm evolutions, with consecutive alternated tempo, maybe it was the hardest track to be recorded. “I had tried twice but the results were never satisfactory” tells Vera. “When I was almost given up, I decided to invite Silvia Goes to write a new arrangement, and she just got it, changing also the sequence of the harmony introduction.”
Besides Vera awesome performance, it’s worth to detach, in “Julinho”, the contagious solo syncopated of Silvia on piano and the hallucinated marking of her husband, the bassist Arismar do Espírito Santos, twisting during the whole tune. Getting almost to the end of this track, Vera can’t resist to the temptation of singing, adding this attractive extra, proving practic.
Opposing “the rhythm concept, typical from a drummer conception”, verified in “Julinho”, Vera shows her romantic side in two tunes. The first one “Eco” – “a bolero that fits the Latin proposal”, had her title given by the name of a specialized magazine in drums and percussion, edited in São Paulo, to which she collaborates with some articles and transcriptions of scores. Playing also a DX7 sequencer, Vera enhances the electric bass of Serginho Oliveira and the tenor sax of Ed Côrtes in the front line, together with a “quotation” of Ribbon in the Sky, from Steve Wonder.
The second romantic tune “Araçá”, shows itself more captivating, full of lyricism and subtlety compatible to its tranquility sounding. Demonstrating her ability of “economic” music, Vera is able, with few notes, to create a magic atmosphere, enchanting, “union of the feelings of sadness and hope”. A portrait of love, enhanced by the keyboards of Alex Frontera and the flute of Derico Sciotti. A moment of pure emotion, a real class of how to use the notion of space in a composition structure, followed by the track “Batuque na Casinha do Figão” (“I wrote this one for my father, thinking about his irritation of having a daughter that was always playing with her mother’s pans and pots”) and before the percussive ritual of “Rumba Meu Boi” (“an improvisation between Rubinho Chacal and I, with a lot oally that the fusion of jazz and samba, to sound stimulating doesn’t need to become bossa-nova necessaryf timbales”).
Bruce Scott, north-American singer, with whom Vera performed in ’88, at the Californian jazz club “At My Place”, is the composer of the tracks “Jamaica” and “Tudo Bem”. “They have a relax climate, happy, almost a party. During the shows that I’ve been playing I also incentive the public to dance because this kind of reaction is very important to me.” says the drummer. Another imperative performance in my shows and because of that couldn’t be out of the album is the track “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence”, from Ryuichi Sakamoto, that got a new treatment, when Vera played the perfect groove.
Joining the team of musicians, Hermeto Pascoal recorded two tracks. "Every time Hermeto saw me playing, he flattered a lot what made me few very happy because I really admire him". Until last year, after being invited to participate in his album, he suggested record in my album. And for sure I was not let this opportunity to go away.” , she observes.
Not happy with his mission of playing a solo in the DX7 at the recreation of the baião of Paraíba, from Luiz Gonzaga, full of quotations of “Malagena”, Hermeto wanted to compose a song especially for Vera. And we had the tune “De Vera”, created during the recording session and recorded without any rehearsal, with Vera singing, sometimes, guessing the dreams of the genius. A touching recognition of the wizard to the sonorous soul of the drummer. A perfect ending to the celebration of the art of leaving to the music and for the music. In other words, a celebration of talent of Vera Figueiredo.
Arnaldo De Souteiro