HEIDI VOGEL / Heidi Vogel Mixtape

Sometimes in baseball you’re in the batter’s box, you’ve been having a pretty good day, one homer, a double and two walks. You begin to believe that this is one of those days, by hook or by crook, there’s nothing they can do to stop you, the substitute relief pitcher who threw four outside balls when he first faced you wasn’t even a small bump in your road to glory.

You check with the batting coach and he signals for you to take the first pitch. Mr. Relief fires one straight down the middle, a fast ball that looks slow to you. You chuckle to yourself; if this is the best that old boy can throw, you’re going to knock the next one out of here. The coach signals swing away. You grin. Old boy throws a wicked inside curve ball, you have to duck to keep from getting hit. You grin again. Another inside fast ball—you back away, the umpire shouts “ball.” One strike, two balls, you’re way ahead of the game. Another high, inside fast ball that you lean back from. “Ball.” Coach says take the next one, which was a fast ball smoking right down the middle. Full count. You just know the next one is going to be another inside fast ball. The coach says swing away. You grin. A low inside slider that obviously is going to miss everything except it breaks at the last minute and you’re left looking at a pitch you’ve never seen this guy throw. And you can’t believe it.

With her debut album, Heidi throws a hell of a pitch. She broke into the majors as the second vocalist and shortly thereafter as the lead vocalist for The Cinematic Orchestra, an electronic jazz outfit out of England where Heidi is from. Their music is serious but no one would consider it quiet intimate sounds. Even on ballads they are often raucously loud. Listen to the first two tracks on the Mixtape, “Breathe” and “All That You Give.” These are both Cinematic features for Heidi, songs that are enduringly associated with Heidi. After three or four albums and a long stint with the band, you pretty much know what to expect.

And so when Tears Of A Bird (the English translation of the Portuguese title, Lagrimas de um Passaro) floated in I was caught looking. A quiet album of Brazilian music with minimal accompaniment, sung mostly in Brazilian Portuguese sometimes with only a strummed acoustic guitar.

This is a beautiful album that’s not pretty. No strings and lush arrangements. No hushed, closely miked vocals that give of the aura of bedroom intimacy. This is a major label’s nightmare—a bossa nova album that is more like a private samba hoda. You’ve been invited to stop by, Heidi leads you out to the patio. Josue Ferreira is sitting, smiling with his nylon stringed guitar across his lap. Is that legendary vocalist Cleveland Watkiss leaning against the far wall? It sure is and he quietly glows through the whole session, stepping up to duet with Heidi on two tracks. There is a piano in an adjacent room whose double doors are thrown wide open; Ivo Neame will play on a couple of tracks. Cellist Ben Davis appears as Heidi gestures for you to have a seat. Bass player Gili Lopes materializes just as the little private session starts. He plays on the first two tracks and later cannot resist joining in on the wordless take of Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge,” which is one of the only two non-Brazilian songs include among the 11 tracks (an interpretation of saxophonist Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” is the other).

This music they make is the kind of music musicians make when they are playing for themselves. On “Dindi,” Heidi steps partially off mike. They are not going for perfection, rather this is about sincerity: the music of lovers who know and love each other, and make no attempt to impress the other. This is shameless, naked music. Nobody stops because the guitarist misses a beat or because Heidi does not quite fully hit a note. This is honest music, no do-overs, no punching in errant notes. This is what it is: music from the heart, shared love.

One way to sum up my feelings is to share Heidi’s responses during an interview:

I have this theory that when the music is really good, it touches people. It doesn’t matter what kind of audience you have, as long as there is quality and dedication, people will hear your soul.

True, I agree with that. About this album, what I wanted to tell you is that it is slightly different from my live show. I didn’t want to do my original sound yet, because if I get that wrong, I’d have messed up an album. But, with this genre of music I knew I couldn’t go wrong. If people don’t like it, they don’t like it, but I knew I’d like it. And I knew the simplicity that I wanted, I couldn’t make a mistake with that. And I don’t know if there is an audience for it because the mood is so particular but I had really nice feedback from some of the best soul, classical and jazz singers in the country. And this is not me asking “Do you like the album? do you like the album?” (Laughter) Because sometimes, you know, I do that to my friends, when I’m not sure about it. But in this case I didn’t have to!

They just came to you…

Yes, and they said it naturally. A friend of mine said that this album is so high in communication level, so intimate and direct that it goes beyond the genre of the style, that even if people don’t know this kind of music, they’ll be touched by it.

—Kalamu ya Salaam  

 Heidi Vogel Mixtape Playlist

The Cinematic Orchestra Live At The Roadhouse 01 “Breathe” 02 “All That You Are”

Lagrimas De Um Passaro 03 “Inutil Paisagem” 04 “Modinha” 05 “Love Dance” 06 “Bonita” 07 “The Frog” 08 “Dindi”  

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 29th, 2012 at 11:48 pm and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “HEIDI VOGEL / Heidi Vogel Mixtape”

February 9th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, even when you don’t have anybody. Loving the world after hearing this.

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