Daniela Soledade, an heir to bossa nova riches

Bossa nova scion Daniela Soledade makes her Bay Area debut at The Back Room on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Shawn-Kyle

A poster for the original production of Orfeu da Conceição hanging in her father’s Copacabana apartment provides a constant reminder of Daniela Soledade’s deep bossa nova roots.

Premiering in Rio de Janeiro in 1956, Vinicius de Moraes’s play brought together the diplomat and poet with a budding young composer named Antonio Carlos Jobim, who wrote the score. Alongside their names on the poster’s credits are Soledade’s grandmother, Orfe choreographer Lina de Luca, and Lila de Moraes, who created the costumes.

“My grandmother was best friends Vinicius’s wife Lila, and my grandmother and grandfather told Vinicius about Jobim when he was looking for a composer to collaborate with,” says Soledade, who makes her Bay Area debut Sunday afternoon at the Back Room, where she celebrates the release of her gorgeous debut album A Moment of You (Blue Line).

Orfeu da Conceição became the basis for Marcel Camus’s Academy Award-winning 1959 film Black Orpheus, which brought international attention to Brazil’s rising bosa nova movement. A devotee of the bossa sound, Soledad casts a wide net on the album, largely avoiding obvious Brazilian Songbook standards. Instead, she focuses on gems like “Dunas” by Rosa Passos and Fernando de Oliveira, and Janet de Almeida’s “Eu Sambo Mesmo,” a pre-bossa anthem memorably interpreted by Passos, João Gilberto, and many others. Singing in both Portuguese and English, she renders every song with bossa nova’s sensuous pulse and distilled dynamics.


“Everybody knows the standard Jobim songs,” Soledade says. “They’ve been recorded a million songs but there are so many jewels that haven’t been. Rosa Passos’ ‘Dunas’ is just a gorgeous song, and it’s not even on Spotify. I wanted to show people some of the jewels that are not well known.”

The album is also something of a roadmap to her family’s musical history. There’s “Sonho Desfeito,” a song her grandfather Paulino Soledade wrote with Jobim and Armando Cavalcanti. A prolific composer, he also helped propel the bossa nova movement in 1961 when he opened Rio’s Zum-Zum Club, which became an important showcase for Elis Regina, Sylvia Telles, Quarteto em Cy, Dorival Caymmi and Vinicius de Moraes (who emerged as a singer in his own right performing at Zum-Zum).

Her father, guitarist Paulinho Soledade, accompanies her on his tribute to his mentor “Song for Baden,” a loving ode to the great guitarist/composer Baden Powell (1937–2000). Paulinho’s guitar lessons with Powell were more like epic hangs, “four or five hours long,” Daniela says. “He’d put a bottle of whiskey on the table, and talk and play until the bottle was done. A lot of times Baden would end up spending the night. In Brazil, the apartments were small, so my father would wake up in the morning and the first thing he saw was Baden’s shoes.”

Her father had a home recording studio, and Daniela started contributing vocals to recordings as a child (children’s voices are featured prominently on many Brazilian soundtracks and sessions). After her parents divorced, music was at the center of her relationship with her father.

“When I was around seven he started bringing me around to things where they needed kids’ voices, television shows and stuff,” she recalls. “He had studios at different houses so you’d be playing and take a dip in the pool and he’d call me over. ‘Come in here and can you sing this background vocal?’ It all seemed very normal.”

Music suffused every aspect of her life, until the age of 16, when her mother moved Daniela and her sister to Florida in 2003, “straight from high school in Rio to a high school in South Tampa,” she says. Florida’s climate eased some of the culture shock, but when it came to music she had to create her own scene

“It was very hard that my social setting didn’t include the music that I was used to,” she says. “But I was always playing guitar and singing at every get together. I became the source of music. It was unfortunate that other people didn’t do it, but at least there was music.”

Now the mother of two young children herself, she’s launched her own career, a move facilitated when she connected with guitarist/producer Nate Najar, who was instrumental in recording A Moment of You.  He joins her Sunday afternoon at the Back Room, where he celebrated the release of his latest album, Under Paris Skies, with his trio last October.

Recommended gig: Bargain alert at California Jazz Conservatory

The California Jazz Conservatory is offering two-for-one tickets (only in advance via the website) to Saturday night’s performance by Argentine-born, Brooklyn-based pianist/composer Emilio Solla and his stellar tango-jazz band Bien Sur!, which features saxophone great Chris Cheek, French-born tango expert Julien Labro on bandoneon and accordion, bassist Edward Perez, and Hungarian-born drummer/percussionist Ferenc Nemeth (best known for his extensive work with guitarist Lionel Loueke). One of the most celebrated and influential figures in tango-jazz, Solla is a conservatory-trained pianist who was hailed as a rising force in tango by Astor Piazzolla himself in the mid-80s. Since settling in New York in 2006, he’s composed for and collaborated with heavyweights such as Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo O’Farrill, Edmar Castañeda and many others.