Till Brönner, trumpeter, singer and one-of-a-kind European jazz personality, celebrates the
joys and pains of life through the soulful music of Brazil in his most personal project yet, recorded on
location in Rio de Janeiro with international guest stars Annie Lennox, Aimee Mann, Milton
Nascimento, Sérgio Mendes and many others.
Brönner has sold more records than any other jazz artist in his country’s history and has conquered
audiences in many European territories as well as major Asian markets. The reasons are obvious: his
honeyed tone and cool, lyrical playing are as seductive to the ear as Brönner is to the eye. His
versatile but always recognizable style is rooted in jazz, but he has also roamed effortlessly into pop,
soul and recently even Christmas music.
This year, as the worldwide music phenomenon of bossa nova celebrates its fiftieth anniversary,
Brönner decided to dip into the pulsating sensuality of Brazilian music on his eleventh solo CD, ‘Rio’.
The album revisits classic songs and rediscovers neglected gems by some of Brazil’s master
songwriters, including Antônio Carlos Jobim, Chico Buarque, and João Donato.
Brönner’s status as a distinguished musical voice of his generation is attested by a stellar array of
international guest stars – pop vocalist Annie Lennox, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, Brazilian music
legends Sérgio Mendes and Milton Nascimento as well as up and coming pop/jazz songbird Melody
Gardot. The musical fundament of the album is supplied by a top-rank Brazilian quintet that includes
guitarist Marco Pereira and percussionist Marcos Suzano. North American organist Larry Goldings
supplies the instrumental icings on the cake.
‘Rio’ reunites Till Brönner with the Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein, his collaborator on ‘Oceana’,
the album that won an ECHO as Germany’s jazz bestseller of 2006. Klein has caused a sensation at
this year’s Grammys when he scored the prestigious “Album of the Year” award for ‘River: The Joni
Letters’, Herbie Hancock’s salute to Joni Mitchell, Klein’s former wife.
The intoxicating sounds of the samba, bossa nova and the multitude of other styles of music that
came out of Brazil are musical expressions that obviously appeal to Brönner. He effortlessly absorbs
Brazil’s special mixture of happiness and sadness, intellect and spirituality with style and skill, and
even manages to sing convincingly in Portuguese.
Like many international Jazz musicians, Till Brönner fell in love with the bossa nova early on in his life.
He still remembers how he discovered his first Antônio Carlos Jobim album many years ago: “I felt
quite the same way as I did when I first listened to bebop. I thought, wow! This is something that’s so
special … It’s very sexy music.” He and his co-musicians bring out that quality on several Jobim
standards. The sentimental ballad “Once I Loved” features a vocal by Aimee Mann, the Oscarnominated,
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, whose cool, fragile vocal style works perfectly in this
ambience. Sérgio Mendes, who, like Till Brönner does now, successfully united the worlds of pop and
jazz with his chart-breaking group Brasil ’66, lends his keyboard-playing and singing to the delightfully
sparkling Jobim song “Ela é Carioca” (She’s a Carioca), made famous by singer-guitarist João Gilberto.
Till himself sings and plays the lively Jobim hit “Só Danço Samba” and does a haunting instrumental
version of Jobim’s seldom recorded composition “Ligia”.
Two further album highlights come from the pen another classic Brazilian songwriter, Joao Donato. Till
sings the bouncing “Café com Pão” (Coffee With Bread) while the catchy “A Rã” (The Frog), a cult hit
with the world-wide DJ and groove scene, is presented with swinging wordless vocals supplied by Till,
Luciana Souza and Larry Klein.
Contemporary Brazilian repertoire is covered with “Mistérios” (Mysteries), written by singer-composers
Joyce and Maurício Maestro. The intriguing song unites the British pop chanteuse Annie Lennox and
Brazilian singer-songwriter legend Milton Nascimento, two icons from completely unconnected styles
of music who have neither met nor sung together before. The success of their first collaboration
together with Till Brönner is proof of the conjunctive quality of this album that effortlessly overleaps
musical borders. Producer Larry Klein translated the song for this album from the Portuguese, as well
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as “Tarde”, another track featuring vocals by Milton Nascimento, this time together with Luciana
Souza, Grammy winning Sao Paulo born vocalist, and “High Night” (Alta Noite), featuring Melody
Gardot, who is currently enjoying success with her major label debut album “Worrisome Heart” and is
regarded a most promising young voice in the areas of pop and jazz.
The fact that international stars from a diversity of musical genres have answered Brönner’s call to
appear on this album demonstrates the standing he has acquired in the music world today. On ‘Rio’
his lively and warm trumpet playing and charming vocals invite the listener on a trip through the
Brazilian mind and music, while the guest stars contribute colourful dashes that make the album
cocktail deliciously diversified.
“All of this was like a dream come true,” Till Brönner recalls the recording sessions. “I listened to this
music when I started playing jazz, and for me it’s almost impossible to divide the two. Funnily enough,
I never made it over there before. To meet the musicians and feel so welcome, and feel that there are
no musical barriers, is a fantastic thing for me to experience.” On a DVD supplement which will be
released as part of a Deluxe Edition of the album, Brönner can be witnessed exploring the sights and
sounds of Rio and meeting Brazilian music legends Joyce, João Donato and Ed Motta.
Born in Viersen, Germany in 1971 and raised in Rome, Till Brönner began studying classical trumpet at
a Jesuit boarding school. He changed course at age thirteen when a record by Charlie Parker opened
his ears to the exciting possibilities of bop. Years of further study – and his discovery of Chet Baker
and Freddie Hubbard, two of the trumpet’s most melodic improvisers – helped shape Brönner into a
musician whose technique is matched by a touching lyricism. He made his Verve debut with the 1998
CD ‘Love’. Till’s subsequent Verve releases include ‘Chattin’ with Chet’ (2000), a tribute to his eternal
inspiration; the urban-soul flavoured ‘Blue-Eyed Soul’ (2002); and ‘That Summer’ (2004), the CD that
sealed Brönner’s position as the biggest-selling artist in German jazz history. He also wrote the
soundtrack music for two movie documentaries: ‘Jazz Seen’ (2001), and ‘Höllentour’ (Hell on Wheels).
Along the way, Brönner has recorded and appeared live with top artists like Ray Brown, Dave
Brubeck, Tony Bennett, Joe Sample, Michael Brecker, Toots Thielemans and countless others. On top
of that he has produced (and played on) albums for some of his cherished personal favorites. He gave
actress/singer Hildegard Knef a pop-jazz makeover on her final album, ‘17 Millimeter’ (1999) and
helped the classical bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff “cross over” in ‘The Jazz Album’ (2006).
Especially meaningful to Brönner are ‘Once to Every Heart’ and ‘Love Is What Stays’, two acclaimed
albums he produced for another of his idols, American jazz singer Mark Murphy.
Now, with ‘Rio’, Till Brönner takes one more step into a rapidly growing international career.