Brasilian Vibes
Nominated for "Album of the Year" by Brasilian Press Awards (2010)

Brasilian Vibes is an album I started working on several years ago, the first sessions taking place in Sao Paulo. The idea of the album is to capture my musical ideas about a variety of Brazilian styles and how I relate to them through both my current musical mindset and my instruments. I have found, in this journey, that I have in fact reunited my instruments with their Brazilian rhythm and percussion ancestors from whom they were separated centuries ago when slaves were taken from Africa. And they are happy to be back together!

After 15 years of going to Brasil to perform and teach over a dozen times, I have a deep association with the music, the culture, many friends and all the great food and natural beauty. And SO many good times!!! "Brasilian Vibes" contains several compositions of mine. The lyrics to my "Brasil's Hold On Me", also the lead-off track of the album, talk about my connections to Brasil. They discuss the spiritual, musical and creative ways that Brasil has, and continues to, enrich my life. I've printed them here, below this section. Following those lyrics are some production notes and comments, a behind-the-scenes look at various aspects about how the tracks came to be. Bahian percussionist/vocalist Nanny Assis joined the project after I began, and contributed two originals as well.


"..beautiful instrumental and vocal arrangements based on a landscape of rock-solid percussion grooves. Recognized as one of the world's top mallet players, Lipner delivers virtuosic craftsmanship on both vibes and marimbas."
"Vibes and Marimba share common African roots with Brazilian percussion. Yet, there is very little co-mingling of these instruments in Brazilian jazz or MPB (Brasilian Popular Music). Until now! Lipner's vibes and marimba are the threads connecting these varied tracks in a beautifully produced recording which makes a huge step in moving his instruments forward in the international music scene." -
"Arthur Lipner plays the instrument as no one else. He's among the best vibraphone players, and has a special heart for Brazilian music. The music is great, well performed and the bonus is a rare and surprising view of the vibraphone and marimba in Brazilian Music!" -
"..great soloing and lotsa groove. Lipner sounds right at home on Brazilian turf, giving an improvisation lesson on every solo. Check out Brasilian Vibes to see how well vibraphone and Brazilian music fit together." - Percussive Notes
"Fans of Brazilian music are sure to get a kick out of the varied offerings..., there's a freshness and vivacity to all the music here. One can easily hear the dedication and the light-hearted fun they're having in communicating the joy of Brazilian music." - Jazz Society of Oregon


Arthur Lipner vibes, marimba, piano, steel drums, Nanny Assis Percussion, Vocals Bill Bickford, Vinicius Cantuaria, Nelson Faria, Manny Moreira - guitar Rob Curto - accordion David Darling cello Vanessa Falabella, Kathy Caprino - vocals Nelson Faria (Rio de Janeiro) - acoustic guitar Joao Baptista, Edson Menezes, Mike LaValle - bass Michael Leonhart trumpet Mauricio Zotarelli, Celso Almeida - drums

Brasilian Vibes is also the name of my current working band which performs this and other Brasilian-based repertoire. Please be in touch if you have any suggestions for presenters or booking agents in your area.

Hope we can perform near you sometime soon!

Brasils Hold On Me
words and music by Arthur Lipner

Why are you always pulling me enticing me to travel oh so far?
Why in my mind I always wonder Brasil thinking of just how you are?
Each time I see you paints another picture on the canvas of my heart
How could I have known that Id want you, need you, way back from the very start?

Brasil has got a hold on me
joy and ecstasy
wont cha tell me what will be
such a magic mystery

my brasileiro space
is my other soulful place
this is where can I be me
tell me when can I be free?

The poetry the imagery the lyrics of life in your latitudes
Creative joy brings wisdom brings such necessary open attitudes
I taste your waves and sense your energy building another part of me
Each time I come back I am growing stronger waiting for me by the sea


Do you think there will be a future time when we are all together there?
Will it be as good as my memories or lead only to more despair?
Is this a passion or a love or just another of my fantasies?
But does it matter if its in my mind or my crazy realities?


Production Notes and Reminiscences by Arthur Lipner & Nanny Assis

These notes were written by Arthur Lipner, with input by Nanny Assis as indicated on his compositions. Brasil is spelled the Brasilian way throughout.

Vibes and Marimba share common African roots with Brazilian percussion. It is these connections that have drawn me deeper into all things Brazilian since I first started performing there in 1996. Nanny Assis is from the northern state of Bahia. This is an area where there is a heavy African slave influence in the music and other aspects of local culture. As such, Baiano percussion tends to be more drumming-based than, say, that of Rio De Janeiro.

Nanny and I met on a gig with Ze Luis in NYC about 6 years ago. We collaborated on this recording project. Some tracks more than others, but nevertheless a mutual input of ideas and ultimate approval. All arrangements were done by both of us unless indicated otherwise. We are now playing live together as much as possible in various instrumental and vocal configurations, supporting the record and having along the way!?.AL


1) Brasils Hold On Me (music/lyrics by Arthur Lipner)

I wrote this song to characterize my passion for Brasil. After 15 trips there in the last 12 years, I continue to return for musical and mental rejuvenation. There I find musicians playing music that is connected to their culture, something I dont experience here in the US. I also find the average musician performing at a very high level, and very open to collaboration. In Rio, the natural beauty of the beaches, flora and fauna gives many of my musician friends there a natural openness in themselves which finds its way into their music. I have come to rely on my trips to Brasil as a way of maintaining my balance as a musician and as a person. I have developed deep and important relationships there which have become essential in my life. The words to this song discuss all of that. Its only the 2nd time lyrics of mine have been recorded, although I do write a fair amount of casual prose and poetry on occasion. The first words were on my very first album, a track called City Soca coincidentally about another place I was inspired by during that period of my life: Tobago.

The Samba groove actually has many subsets of grooves which vary from region to region in Brasil. These variants have specific African roots depending on where the slaves from those regions came from. The groove on this song, called an Ijexa (eee-jay-shah), is a syncopated beat common in Brasil but basically unheard of in the US. I wanted the feeling of party music, with the horns jamming along with the band at the end. Vibes are (never?) used in this type of groove. This is new.

2) Bagaceira (music/lyrics by Nanny Assis)
Nanny writes: Bagaceira's lyrics picture, in a very humorous way, a sugar cane harvest by farmers from Northeast Brazil. If you listen closely, you almost feel that you are there, under the scalding sun, loading trucks. The word Bagaceira actually has two different meanings. In addition to this sugar cane farming reference, it also means something that someone is very good at. The two verses of lyrics in this song criss-cross these two meanings.

The track was produced by NYC-based guitarist Marcos Vigio, originally from Rio. All of the percussion sounds that are sampled to create the groove are sounds which come from the vibes, but not the bars - me hitting parts of the frame and resonators. Marcos had fun assembling these to come up with a lot of pretty strange textures. I made some effect and reverb contributions along the way. The groove is called a Chula. Its a funky guitar-based groove from Bahia. After numerous rehearsals done via emailing tracks back and forth, Eraldo Mello recorded his part in Sao Paulo and emailed the files.

3) Back To Bahia (music by Nanny Assis, lyrics by Laura Assis)
Nanny writes:
I'm from Bahia, Brasil. This is a sentimental song about my longing to return. Ive been in the US for awhile now, but its my roots that remain central to my being. My teenage daughter Laura was born there and she wrote the lyrics.

Marimba is hardly ever used in Bossa Nova style like this. Vinicius Cantuaria is an important figure in Brazilian music with whom Nanny occasionally performs with. This track was a casual track recorded one day by Nanny and Vinicius that I heard and fell in love with. Vinicius presence as a guest adds a great energy to this track and cd.

4) Four Brothers (comp. by Jimmy Guiffre, arr. by Arthur Lipner)

Four Brothers was written by Jimmy Guiffre during the time he was with The Woody Herman Big Band. The Four Brothers, including Jimmy himself, were the four saxes up front.

Its kind of a traditional fast Jazz Samba. There are lots of musical combinations on this track that have appeared rarely, if ever, before. The scatting with pandeiro intro, vibes and marimba doubling vocals, the vibes/trombone unison shout chorus. At the end of that chorus we both kind of stretch out and go our own way.

5) Mallet Evolution, Monobloco Revolution (comp. Arthur Lipner)

In 2006 I was invited to perform as a guest with Monobloco, the most well-known Samba band in Rio. Each year Monobloco is invited to close the 12-day Carnival in Rio, parading down Copacabana Avenue for 100,000 people. We played in an amphitheater for thousands of people. They had never played with a mallet player before. I was struck by their openness to collaborate. When we all got to know each a bit, by both hanging out and during interviews for my upcoming documentary, we enjoying chatting about how rich percussion traditions are from around the world. We also touched upon how much more great music there is to be made by exploring these types of collaborations. On this track, in some ways, we are putting instruments back together again as may have happened naturally in Africa had migration occurred over time instead of due to the displacement caused by slave-taking.

The collaboration with Monobloco struck me so deeply I decided to write and record a piece with them in the studio. Pagode is a style of Samba-based popular music in Brazil which is liked by many but not all due to its simple harmonies and typical romance words. The first time I heard it I was in Laranjeiras (La-ran-jeer-us), a Rio neighborhood where I was staying. The car was parked on the street. It was a Sunday afternoon (Sunday is family day in Brasil), so the cafes were overflowing. People were barbequing with hibachis, sitting on the curb outside the cafes blasting the music from their cars! I instantly fell in love with the music that day, with all the good vibes that I was experiencing permanently associated with it.

This type of music has rarely (never?) been recorded or played before with mallet instruments. The Evolution in the title refers to the common African roots that mallet instruments have with the Samba percussion instruments. The Revolution in the title refers to the amazing things Monobloco is doing to fuse traditional Samba with rock rhythm section instruments and vocals in a pop kind of way. And it refers to the Revolution of the track at hand a combination which would never have taken place if the leaders of the Monobloco were not so open-minded and creatively driven.

In this song, I tried to capture that lilting Pagode energy. I wrote the song. Monobloco played their part in a studio as we videoskyped a bit during the Rio recording session while I was at my studio in Connecticut, just to be in touch and see how it all was going.

The track follows through a chronological sequence of mallet instrument development. We start with the African gyil, a xylophone I bought and performed on in Ghana with The National Dance Company of Ghana in 2006. Master Ghanaian xylophonist Bernard Woma, and his Dagara School Of Music, was integral in that encounter happening. The gyil, from Ghana, is the mother of all mallet instruments. This region of Africa is the cradle. Back to the track..l Later on a modern-day marimba enters the track. This American style marimba is similar to those that were played in American and European orchestras beginning in the early 1900s. The track ends with vibes taking the lead. Vibes were created in the US in the late 1920s. Known for their use in Jazz and range of improvisational abilities, I wanted to include improvisation along with this style of large Samba batucada band (rarely, if ever, done before live or on recordings). I had problems zeroing in on which key would work best for the blowing changes with all the different percussion pitches coming from drums and miscellaneous instruments. The while I was focusing on eq-ing the tracks I heard the cowbells prominently playing two pitches, a D and a Bb. This was the inspiration I was searching for! I created a jazz=based chord progression on those two pitches and did my jamming on vibes to end the track.

6) Affirmation (comp. Jose Feliciano, arr. Arthur Lipner)

This has always been a favorite tune of mine from the 70s fusion days. George Benson did such a slick version. On this track we had some fun funk-ifying the Samba groove and adding steel drums later as a melodic voice. Ive been playing steel drums for almost 30 years. What a great combination, the Steel drums and Samba done very rarely except for some early tracks by Andy Narell. This is an easy, good-morning kind of track with sun-drenched optimism. We left the basic tracks open at the end for guitarist Bick Bickford to jam out on. Bill and I have been playing together for almost 10 years. Bill has played with DeFunkt, the Samba band Pe De Boi, and drummer Billy Cobham, among many others. We live near each other in CT and play in other projects together as well.

7) Eu E A Brisa (music/lyrics by Johnny Alf, arr. B. Cardozo/M. Freitas)
Ee-ooh Ee-Ahbreezuh
Vanessa Falabella and I used to work together at NYCs famed Caf矗ha club in Greenwich Village. We reconnected in Sao Paulo when I went there to record a few tracks for this album. She suggested this song, although I had never heard it before. It blew my mind, as did Vanessas vocals. So sensitive and sensual. Such rich harmony, typical of much Brasilian popular song. She came up to NYC later on and we added the vocal overdubs at the end. When I hear this track I think of lying alone on the beach, looking up at the sky during sunset, feeling natural beauty and longing all around me.

Johnny Alf is an important composer of Brasilian song who died this year. Coincidentally, the drummer on this track played with him for many years.

8) Morning Song (comp. Arthur Lipner)

Choro is a style of Brasilian music equivalent to the roots be-bop of Jazz, popular in Brasil around the 30s and 40s. If you had the radio on back then, you would have heard Choro music. I wanted to include a Choro-style piece on this album, but I wanted the challenge of writing my own piece. Vibes and marimba are hardly used in this style, so this is new sound colors for Choro orchestration. David Darlings celli add a wonderful sentimental touch. David and I have done several concerts for his organization Music For People with percussionist Glen Velez who I used to play with around the mid 90s when we recorded my cd Portraits In World Jazz. David coincidentally also lives in CT.

I started this song around 5pm one Friday night and finished it around 4am the next morning. I barely ate, I just sat and crunched it out. Thus, the title Morning Song. It was almost like I was channeling it from somewhere else. After that, I listened to my mac playing back the midi files I had written many times, kind of marveling that I had birthed this thing all in one shot. Sometime tunes happen like that, or sometimes they take a year or more for the right parts for find their way and settle into the right order.

9) Cru Cre Corocco (comp. Ivan Lins/Vitor Martins, arr. M. Freitas)

This is another song that I hadnt heard before Vanessa suggested it in Sao Paulo. Its got a real streets-of-Rio kind of vibe to it. Theres something universal about clapping: everyones got hands and can do it. Ive always liked claps on tracks but never used them before on one of my albums. The accordion is common in the music of Northeastern Brasil, and adds an interesting sound color mixing with the vibes. Vanessas scat vocal makes it happen!

10) Peach Juice and a Niteroi Sunrise (comp. Arthur Lipner)

This song took a very circuitous route on its way to this album. Afoxe (ah-foh-shay) is a type of Samba which features the bass resting on 1 and 2 and hitting on 3 and 4. Its a great groove that works in a variety of tempi and is very common in Brasilian pop music.

This song originally had the working title Afoxes-ish because it was a kind of jazzy afoxe. I recorded it in Rio a few years ago for guitarist Nelson Farias online record company and it was released as internet-only (still available at The great Rio drummer Kiko Freitas and bassist Ney Conceicao were on that session. Kiko and Ney are old friends who have been touring with Joao Boasco, along with Nelson Faria, for many years. They both played on my previous album Modern Vibe. Nelson is responsible for that weird chord in beginning of the B section. Anyway, that version was perfect for this album. When I called the studio in Rio to get the tracks they looked high and low but could only find the mp3 mixdown. So I decided to re-record the tune. Of course, after a few years, we change as musicians just as we change as people. Ultimately I ended up with a significantly different track, but one I am very happy with. In that process, the afoxe qualities of the track became diminished to the point where it isnt really an afoxe. So the song needed a new title.

Niteroi is a suburb of Rio from which you can see Rio across the bay. Rio de Janeiro residents (cariocas) like to say the best thing about Niteroi is being able to see Rio! It can be tough to get to because there is a long bridge from Rio, and often when I am in a cab taking the ride the cabbie falls asleep! For real, I have literally shaken the shoulders of 4 or 5 cabbies waking them up so they dont drive off the bridge. Anyway, I had pulled an all-nighter in Niteroi last year and was sitting on the beach alone watching the sunrise, staring at Rio drinking a peach juice. The melody for this song popped into my head at that moment and the new title was thus born.

11) Tarde Em Itapua (words/music Vinicius de Moraes/Toquinho)
Tar-day Aim It-a-pooh-uh
I first encountered this beautiful bossa standard on a recording session I did in Rio for Sony Records, produced by Nelson Faria. I couldnt get the bridge out of my head for weeks! It was an obvious choice to put on my own project. I discovered Nanny also sings the song in his working repertoire. We wanted the mallets to be emphasized since marimba is so unusual in bossa nova, so Nanny sang only parts of the head on the track giving the melody to marimba in other parts. Could be my best solo on the album! The song is a Brasilian classic. I took a chance and wrote the distinctive vibes/horn lines into the arrangement. Hope people arent upset but I think it sounds great.

12) Four Brothers (radio edit)
This edited version comes in well under the 5-minute mark, making a better candidate for radio airplay. I took out the bone solo and one the head repeats.

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