It was soon clear that at age 16, Ed Motta had arrived and was making plans to soar much higher. However, sixteen years ago, not even the most optimistic of optimists could have foreseen he would get this far. Today he is a singer and composer, plays several instruments, makes arrangements and produces music in many different countries. In his own style, while remaining loyal to funk-soul, he mixes influences that vary from jazz to popular Brazilian music, from Hollywood film soundtracks to rock, from classical music to American standards, from bossa nova to reggae.
The result of this melting pot of references has already been recognized all over the world and acknowledged in recent tours across Europe, Japan, the United States and South America. Inside studios or on stage, Ed has also played with names such as Roy Ayers, Chucho Valdés, Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick (leader of Incógnito), Ryuichi Sakamoto, Paul Griffin, Bernard Purdie, Bo Diddley, Ed Lincoln, Miltinho, Mondo Grosso, Marcos Valle, João Donato, Dom Salvador, among many others. As the nephew of singer and composer Tim Maia, the creator of Brazilian - and more to the point, Carioca - soul music, his earliest recollections are of his uncle's music, the samba-canção and bossa nova albums his parents, Luzia e Antonio Carlos, would listen to. He also remembers Earth, Wind & Fire hits, Stevie Wonder tunes and his sister Regina's favorite: disco music, the rage during the 70's. But what made his natural passion for music turn into an obsession was British blues-rock: Thin Lizzy, Humble Pie, Led Zeppelin, Free, Rory Gallagher...
An obsession that led him to accept an invitation a neighbor made to become lead singer of a hard rock band called Kabbalah. During that time, the beginning of the 80's, another detail of his personality had already become clear: the encyclopedic voracity with which he read up on themes that interested him. As a child, he became an expert in fish and aquariums. When he became a teenager, he took on comics and classic films and ended up writing about them for Rio de Janeiro fan magazines. With music it was no different.
When he had covered the whole blues and rock catalog and its byproducts, Ed heard "Blow by blow", and realized that what English guitar player Jeff Beck did was soak up from the same soul and funk source he himself had listened to throughout his childhood. It was the mid-80´s and that´s when it all started: the birth of the Ed Motta that was to become famous through his recordings and his band, Conexão Japeri. The band toured Brazil, the album was a great hit and sold ...., prompted by three huge hits played over and over again on radios: "Manuel", "Baixo Rio" and "Vamos dançar", songs that to this day are standard requests in all his shows. But as Ed himself has admitted, he never got used to "the democracy of a band". And the fact was everyone knew that Conexão Japeri was too small for the multi-talented artist.
On "Um contrato com Deus" (Warner, 1990), his next project for the label, Ed got credit as singer and composer, a validation that his solo career was on the right track. The second album was more experimental, composed, produced and recorded by Ed and Bombom, the bass and guitar player who had also been a member of Conexão. The duo signed all the original songs and took turns on almost all the instruments, calling on maestro Orlando Silveira to help create arrangements for the wind and chord instruments on some of the tracks. Among the eight new songs, including some that became hits like "Solução", "Um jantar para dois", "Um contrato com Deus" and "Sombras do meu destino", there are nine vignettes that bear the mark of Ed's references: rural blues, reggae, funk.
At the time, Ed didn't just write "Um contrato com Deus", he also wrote his first soundtrack for a short film called "Leonora Down", by Flavia Alfinito. The following step was even more radical. On "Entre e ouça", released in 1992, Ed Motta took a plunge into the pool of discoveries he had made on his journey towards making jazz pop music tinged with sophisticated harmonies and irresistible swing. Among his influences was the American duo Steely Dan. Although the album is now considered a classic and Warner had to include it once again in its 2001 catalog, at the time, it caused a shockwave.
Very few (and knowing) listeners actually recognized it as the masterpiece that it is. As a matter of fact, it displeased many people, from executives, producers and label publicists to radio show hosts and even some of the press and its public. The album was produced by Ed and Bombom. The two mustered around them musicians like vibraphonist Jota Moraes, pianist Lulu Martin, drummer Jorginho Gomes and two of Ed's teachers, pianist Delia Fischer and saxophone and flute artist Chico Sá.
"Entre e ouça" deserves to be heard for its embellished compositions, all by the duo Ed and Bombom, except for the theme "Lulu prelude", by Lulu Martin. During this period, Ed toured in the USA and Europe for the first time and performed at the Dingwalls Club, in London and at the Théâtre du Chatelet, in Paris. Some of the songs from the Paris show in May 1993 were included as bonus tracks on the 2001 reedited "Entre e ouça". In 1993, after releasing the album "ao Vivo", he ended his deal with Warner. The album was a record of the show that he´d made three years before. Dissatisfied with the pressures of the recording market and aware that all the doors to invention and renewal were closed, Ed Motta and his wife, the comic book artist and graphic designer Edna Lopes, followed advice that harmonica player and composer Maurício Einhorn had given out in the 60's.
In a few words: "The only way out for Brazilian music is Rio de Janeiro's International Airport". During most of 1994, the two lived in New York City where, oddly enough, Ed discovered the power and beauty of Brazilian music by immersing himself in the music of Tom Jobim, Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque, Guinga. On his relentless quest for music with no limits, he also fell in love with classical music (from Debussy to Poulenc), Hollywood film soundtracks (from Korngold to Henry Mancini) and with the musicals of Stephen Sondheim. Part of the time he spent in Manhattan was dedicated to recording an album that was never cut. Sessions took place at Steely Dan Donald Fagen's studio and big names of American jazz took part: drummer Bernard Purdie, keyboard player Paul Griffin and bass players Eddie Gomez and Chuck Rainey. When he returned to Brazil, Ed experimented with a little bit of everything.
He wrote and recorded with Aldir Blanc on the album "50 anos"; he wrote the soundtrack for the animated short film "Ninó" (directed by Flávia Alfinito), an award winner at the Vitória Film Festival and for the short film "Famine', by Patrícia Alves Dias). He also wrote and recorded TV commercials. In 1996, the soundtrack of the film "Pequeno dicionário amoroso" (directed by Sandra Werneck) proved that Ed was close to reaching a combination of artistic ambition and commercial success. The album was released by BMG and ratified the influence of MPB (Brazilian Popular Music - from bossa nova to choro) and jazz on Ed´s music. The success of the song "Falso milagre do amor", an elaborate samba-canção in a soul-funk framework, with lyrics by Ronaldo Bastos, proved that Ed was ready.
This also became obvious through his many performances throughout Brazil and around the world. He experimented with different configurations and took part in conductor Nelson Ayres'Symphonic Jazz Orchestra. Ed also sang in London, Buenos Aires, Nova York, Boston, Miami and Rome. In Paris, after his show at the Hot Brass, a traditional Parisian jazz club where the avant-garde movement started, he got four encores. After Universal hired him in 1997, Ed released "Manual prático para festas, bailes e afins, Vol.
1", sharing production credits with Liminha. This time he proved it was possible to write quality commercial pop music. Pop prêt-à-porter. It was a bold move musically-speaking and he managed to merge his first influences, funk, soul and pop, with what he had begun to listen to in the mid-90's: orchestras, jazz, Hollywood soundtracks and Broadway musicals. Aside from participating on several songbooks and soundtracks, Ed Motta had not released a studio album in five years, that is, ever since "Entre e ouça" (1992).
"Manual prático..." offered more than enough material to meet the public´s demand for his music. There were funk tunes reminiscent of the Conexão Japeri days ("Daqui pro Méier", "Fora da lei", "Birinaite" and "Dias de paz"); soul ballads that rephrased the tradition of masters like Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway for the Brazilian public ("Quais serão meus desejos" and "Vendaval"); vignettes that echoed some of the albums "Um contrato com Deus" (89) and "Entre e ouça" ("A loja do subsolo" and "Cartão de visita"); plus unclassifiable and irresistible genre fusions. According to Ed, music that can be summed up as Rodgers & Hart (1930´s American standards composers) meet Holland and Dozier (1960´s hit soul composers). In the studio, Ed brought together a dream team: among others, Bombom (guitar), Jota Moraes (piano, keyboards and vibraphone), Serginho Trombone, João Castilho (guitar), Vittor Santos (trombone), Liminha (bass) and Renato "Massa" Calmon (drums), a friend who has remained a close collaborator.
He also yielded to his natural gift as a multi-instrumentalist and took turns on the bass, the guitar and the keyboards as well as premiering as an arranger for a large orchestra on the ballad "Quais serão meus desejos?", with strings, bassoon and oboe. Ed wrote most of the wind arrangements, some with Lincoln Olivetti ("Daqui pro Méier"), Jota Moraes ("Lustres e pingentes", "A flor do querer", "Mentiras fáceis") and Serginho Trombone ("Dias de paz", "Luna e cera"). In 1997, after his album was released and became a hit on radio stations and a favorite in record stores, Ed toured Brazil and performed in Europe and the USA, where he did a show with vibraphonist and singer Roy Ayers, at New York City's Central Park Summer Stage. In 1999, Ed teamed up with Ivan Lins and went on a coast to coast tour of the USA. The Carnegie Hall show in New York City boasted performances by guests singer Chaka Khan and bass player Will Lee.
That same year, Ed took part in Mondo Grosso's album, a project by Japanese composer and producer Shinichi Osawa. While on tour, Ed also found time to compose and record the soundtrack for "De janela pro cinema", Quiá Rodrigues´s award-winning film at the Vitória, Maranhão and Recife film festivals. Released in 2000, "As segundas intenções do 'Manual prático'" took Ed one step farther in his activities. Now sole producer of the album, Ed recorded the base with a set band - Renato "Massa" Calmon (drums), Marcelo Mariano (bass), Glauton Campello (Rhodes piano) and Paulinho Guitarra - and then searched in several different carioca studios for the perfect sound, what he felt was specific to each one of the compliments, details and solos on this musical mosaic. On this second lap of his musical journey, several names joined forces on the album: on keyboards Fábio Fonseca, a travel companion from Conexão Japeri days, arranger Jota Moraes at the piano, Liminha on bass, arranger Jessé Sadoc on trumpet, Marcelo Martins on sax and veteran organist Ed Lincoln.
As usual, the lyricists were originals like Ronaldo Bastos, Chico Amaral, Rita Lee, Nelson Motta, Zélia Duncan, Lulu Santos and Doc Comparato. The rhythm selection ranges from samba-funk ("Dez mais um amor" and "Assim assim"), the delicious disco-marchinha "Colombina", disco music ("Mágica de um charlatão"), jazz-funk ("Pisca-alerta"), ballads like "Jóia de mágoa", "À deriva" and "Outono no Rio" - an instant standard and to this day, a favorite at all of Ed´s shows - and the bold instrumental theme "A Tijuca em cinemascope". The boldness of "A Tijuca em cinemascope", the last track of "As segundas intenções" was a forewarning of what was to come just one year later. Released in 2001, "Dwitza" (Universal) was an old project of Ed´s, the instrumental album he had always dreamed of. Hence the title, a word he invented that had an international accent. Except for the songs "Doce ilusão" (letra de Nelson Motta) and "Coisas naturais" (lyrics by Ronaldo Bastos and Ed), all the other 12 album tracks have no lyrics or are sung in that unique language known as "edmottese", the language that was present in his vocalizes and scat singing. Ed is the producer, the writer and the base arranger working in close alliance with a brilliant team made up of Jota Moraes, a very important collaborator, on Rhodes piano and vibraphone, Renato "Massa Calmon (on drums), Alberto Continentino (on accoustic and electric bass), Jessé Sadoc (on flugelhorn and trumpet), Marcelo Martins (on flute), Fábio Fonseca (on keyboards), Jaques Morelenbaum (on the cello) and Teco Cardoso (on baritone sax). As the titles of the two songs reveal, on "Um Dom pra Salvador" Ed pays tribute to some of the artists who have influenced him.
The album's opening track is in honor of Dom Salvador, the Brazilian pianist who lived in New York City and "Amalgasantos" pays homage to composer and maestro Moacir Santos, Brazilian music genius who moved to Los Angeles in the 60's. The truth is "Dwitza" is an amalgm of references and reverences with which Ed makes his unique and original synthesis: it's a mix of independent jazz from the Strata-East and Black Jazz labels, Brian Auger, Steely Dan, the classic Scriabin and Honneger, Cal Tjader, João Donato, David Axelrod, Ennio Morricone, Jack & Roy and others. While doing "Dwitza" Ed Motta teamed up with Nelson Motta and produced the soundtrack of the film "A partilha", directed by Daniel Filho. The 2001 soundtrack released by Universal contains several songs by the duo Motta & Motta: "Tardes de verão", "Risos na noite" and "Apaixonada", sung and arranged by Ed. Between 2001 and 2003, the year he released "Poptical", Ed's first album for the Trama label, his international career took off. During two years, he covered the complete Blue Note Club circuit in Japan and went to Europe several times.
In his travels, he recorded with Incognito, with partner Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick and sung "Who needs love", the title and opening track of the album released by the band in 2002. He also recorded with West London names like Nature's Plan (4 Hero) and Alex Attias. On "Poptical" (another word Ed created that has a universal ring and meaning) he goes back to the song and pop formats on an album in which analogical synthesizers play the role of the strings and brass. Influences include Les McCan´s "Layers", Fernando Gelbard´s "Didi", the brothers Mizelli, Joe Vanelli´s pop and even waltzes that evoke the 50's. Ed Motta produced and arranged the album´s 12 new compositions and took turns on the keyboards, accoustic piano and guitar while also working on the base with a great band that has toured the world with him: Renato "Massa" Calmon on drums, Alberto Continentino on bass, Rafael Vernet on keyboards and Paulinho Guitarra. During the recording of the album, Ed had the added help of Rick Ferreira on steel guitar, Fábio Fonseca on keyboard, Sidinho on percussion and Jota Moraes on marimba and glockenspiel. The success of "Tem espaço na van" (with lyrics by Seu Jorge), a disco-funk and the album´s first single, proved that the harmonious relationship between Ed and the Brazilian public was still going strong.
Ed´s flair for dance music can be heard on tracks such as "Coincidência", "Eu avisei" (the first time he teamed up with Adriana Calcanhotto) and "Que bom voltar" (lyrics by Daniel Carlomagno). But the repertoire also boasts Hollywood ballads by Ed like "Rainbow's end" (with lyrics in English by Ronaldo Bastos), "The rose that came to bloom" (another song in English signed by Jean- Paul "Bluey" Maunick) and "Pra se lembrar" (lyrics by Jair Oliveira). And Ed flirts with bolero and rumba on "Quem pode surpreender", lyrics by Zélia Duncan); and foxtrot on "Fox do detetive", lyrics by Chico Amaral. As he's been doing since "Entre e ouça" in 1992, Ed thought up the concept of the cover and sleeve of "Poptical", an album that in England was also produced in vinyl, like "Dwitza". Since releasing "Poptical", Ed Motta has been performing in Brazil and many countries around the world in a show that is also the groundwork of his first DVD. Like the music that makes him move, Ed is always open to innovations and surprise. Read more on Last.fm.
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