Having lived and breathed the music of her native Rio De Janeiro since birth, the souls of the great samba, bossa-nova, MPB and Tropicalia titans resonate in Clara Moreno’s voice today. Clara’s parents Joyce Moreno and Nelson Angelo are two of those titans, whose own careers have had a colossal influence on the shape and sound of Brazilian music since the 1960s. A reimagining of Samba Esquema Novo, the seminal debut album release by Jorge Ben (1963), is Clara’s spectacular tribute to her heritage, both musically and personally. This fresh take on the album that opened up new avenues for samba and bossa is Clara’s third album release for Far Out Recordings, following the critically acclaimed Meu Samba Torto and Miss Balanco.
Jorge Ben’s Samba Esquema Novo introduced an innovative approach to Samba which foreshadowed the coming years of Brazilian music, from bossa to tropicalia. Yet while the album essentially flopped with critics at first, Benjor’s laid back attitude, humorous spirit and brilliant song writing and arrangement would soon catch on and spread internationally, marking the album as one of huge importance in Brazil’s history.
No stranger to the spotlight herself, Clara’s career began at a very early age, performing in children’s choirs for the likes of Milton Nascimento, Egberto Gismonti, Originais do Samba and Trem da Alegria amongst others, the Rio singing sensation has since performed and recorded with the likes of João Donato, Roberto Menescal, Danilo Caymmi, Antonio Adolfo and of course her mother Joyce.
With Clara Moreno’s ‘Novo’ version of Samba Esquema Novo, she delivers her own audacious charm over the subtle contemporary twist on Ben’s classic original, which plays out in the flawless arrangements and production work of Paulo Malheiros, Luís Paulo Serafim and Juliana Melo, some of Sao Paulo’s brightest young musical minds. A gleaming rework of the anthemic Brazilian summer samba ‘Mas Que Nada’ opens the album with lush warm textures and a witty dub-echo on Clara’s sultry voice, atop masterful samba jazz playing from the rest of the band. With ‘Balanca Pema’ we have moody n’ groovy bossa-jazz amped up with a mischievous trombone and fiendish pattering percussion, creating a sassier and punchier contrast to Ben’s light, airy original.
Samba Esquema Novo marks a renaissance in music, initially infusing samba and bossa nova with the rhythms of their African roots harmony - while perfectly encapsulating the incredible energy of Rio de Janeiro - Clara Moreno does the same again, but it’s a completely novel experience. The album is a tour of Jorge Ben’s Rio, through the eyes of Clara Moreno, a true modern day carioca carrying the torch of her parent’s generation while stating her rightful claim to an original contemporary sound of her own.