A grandaughter’s devotion: Mariana de Moraes at the bluewhale


photo courtesy mariana de moraes

In her upcoming performance at the Little Tokyo jazz club, bluewhale, chanteuse Mariana de Moraes is admirably fronting an evening of Brazilian samba, bossa nova, Brazilian jazz, Afro-Samba, and poetry. And she is doing more. She is honoring her grandfather, Vinícius de Moraes (1913-1980) a giant of Brazilian culture history. De Moraes was a poet, song lyricist, writer and playwright. Clearly a Renaissance man, he also served as vice-consul at the Brazilian embassy in Los Angeles.

Along with singer Tom Jobim and master guitarist João Gilberto, Vinícius de Moraes became known as a founder of Bossa Nova.  He helped define the seductive form in the 60’s, with an impeccable credential of having co-written, with Jobim, “The Girl from Ipanema.”

Vinícius de Moraes

While in Los Angeles he became close with Brazilian musicians stateside including Carmen Miranda and her Bando da Lua, and also befriended Orson Welles.  It was here in L.A. that he wrote his books “Livro de sonetos” (“Book of Sonnets”) and “Novos poemas II” (“New Poems II”).

This man’s life of creativity also left a strong footprint in the film world. His play Orfeu da conceição (Orpheus of the Conception), a reworking of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in the carnival of Rio, was adapted into the film Black Orpheus, which won an Academy Award in 1959 as Best Foreign Language Film.

Mariana was born into this family of artists in Rio de Janeiro; her father is the photographer Pedro de Moraes and her mother the actress Vera Barreto Leite. She began singing in childhood, encouraged by her grandfather. Her elegant recreations of Brazilian music classics and sambas from the ’30s to ’50s carry her timeless sensibility, breath-taking tone and intellectual curiosity.

The evening’s fabulous-sounding band includes Mika Mutti (keys), Ted Falcon (violin and mandolin), Lucio Vieira (on drums), John Leftwich (bass), Nando Duarte (7-string guitar) and Scott Mayo (saxophone, flute).

Celebrating Vinícius de Moraes: Mariana De Moraes | the bluewhale | Mar 28 | $25 tickets at door

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