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The multi-Grammy-nominated Bebel Gilberto's latest album, Tudo, which means “everything” in English, showcases Bebel’s ethereal vocals and wistful, dreamy song writing in each of the CD’s 12 tracks. Bebel splits her time between Rio de Janeiro and New York City; she’s exquisitely synthesized musical influences from both cities in every track. Bebel’s sultry tonality is constant throughout Tudo as are the warm and playful Brazilian rhythms that include wood bongos and shakers. The gorgeous melodies are shaped by touches of electronica, and Bebel’s intimate vocals hint at a fantastical Rio de Janeiro.
Bebel had been tucking away musical gems over the past five years, from joyful melodies, to reflective, romantic lyrics, which appear on Tudo. In 2013 while working in Brazil on the Bebel Gilberto in Rio DVD, the rhythms began stirring inside her. Although she’d been ordered to rest in order to combat exhaustion, Bebel believed it was the right time to record; she knew the music would be strong. Despite the challenges 2013 brought, “I’m a good bon vivant,” assured Bebel who always finds time for friends, attending to her rooftop garden overlooking Manhattan’s skyline, or walking on the beach, “I know how to live.” Tudo is perhaps Bebel’s most intimate recording, captures the human vulnerabilities that bring both sorrows and joy.
Tudo was recorded in Brazil, New York City, and Los Angeles; produced and mixed by Mario Caldato Jr in early 2014. Bebel was able to gather her favorite musicians from all over the globe, liberally using the words “amazing,” “beautiful,” “heaven,” “a luxury!” to describe their talents and contributions to Tudo. Bebel chose to work with the producer Mario Caldato Jr. because, as she put it, “I’m so eclectic, I needed one producer to translate it all.”
Gilberto was born in New York to Brazilian music icons João Gilberto and Miúcha. Her musical education was her childhood in Brazil. She was surrounded by extended family including her uncle Chico Buarque and family friends like Milton Nacimento, Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso, and João Donato; she made her first recording at age 7. “I just turned 48, so it’s been 41 years!” exclaims Bebel with a laugh, “I’m really proud, but tired too!”
Bebel’s life-long eclectic musical tastes are made palpable when listening to Tudo. In addition to living and breathing all types of Brazilian musical styles as a child, she was exposed to the greats, from Debussy to Prince; Michel Legrand to Billie Holliday; Bjork to Gershwin. Also evident on Tudo some tracks for than others, is her love for North American soul; she discovered Donna Summer, Earth Wind and Fire, and Michael Jackson on the dance floor as a budding teenager. “The whole disco thing plays a big role in my heart,” says Bebel, who still loves to dance.
Several years after Bebel moved to New York City in 1991 her present day sound of electronic meets Brazilian began to crystallize. “Little by little, I learned what I wanted musically,” says Bebel, who gigged all around the city and collaborated with many artists. She established a weekly gig at The Greatest Bar on Earth, on top of the World Trade Center in the early 1990’s that drew a fervent international crowd. “At that gig, everything started to come together,” says Bebel. “I think there I became a New Yorker—with a Brazilian heart of course!”
Tudo is sung in Portuguese, English—sometimes in the same song—and a touch of French. Bebel was delighted to finally record a duet with Seu Jorge, a friend for more than 20 years; their “Nova Idea” is a sexy mix of harmony and charm. Tudo features a mix of original tracks written or co-written by Bebel as well as other composers like Cesar Mendez who also plays guitar. She covers the Jobim classic “Vivo Sonhando,” and sings a devastating version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” which she preformed in 2011 at Carnegie Hall, and also made her debut playing guitar.
Tudo musicians include Masa Shimizu on guitars, who is one of Bebel’s longest running collaborators, “He can read my mind!” says Bebel. Didi Gutman of Brazilian Girls fame plays piano and percussionist Mauro Refosco plays a variety of drums and even bottle caps. Liminha, who was part of Mutantes, also co-produced Tudo, along with Kassin, who plays electric and acoustic bass and guitars; And the extremely talented Miguel Atwood-Ferguson created the string arrangements, as well as a magical new sound, which according to Bebel was the cherry on top of the cake.