Once you've heard the luminous voice of Paula Santoro and the enthralling guitar virtuosity of Ian Faquini, their sound will become permanently etched into your heart. Metal na Madeira (Metal on Wood), their new collaborative album, takes inspiration from Xylography, a traditional art form from Northeastern Brazil in which the artist develops an image by engraving wood with a metal object. Likewise, Faquini and Santoro create their intoxicating music from the way in which the metallic harmonics of her voice affect and enrich the woody tones of his guitar.
The image that ultimately emerges from Metal na Madeira is more than a portrait of two artists creating together. It also conjures the timeless landscape of the Brazilian Northeast, from which both artists originally hail. Into that space, Faquini and Santoro invite an all-star cast of collaborators, including Brazilian saxophone great Spok, leader of Recife's Spok Frevo Orquestra; Bay Area multi-reedist Harvey Wainapel; trombonist Jeff Cressman; keyboardist and accordion player Vitor Gonçalves; bassist Scott Thompson; drummer/percussionist Rafael Barata; and pandeiro player Sergio Krakowski.
The album consists of nine original compositions by Faquini and presents a fresh take on traditional Northeastern rhythms such as Maracatu, Frevo, Baião, Xote, and Toada. Faquini's music keeps one foot firmly planted in the past while stepping briskly towards the future with modern harmonic and melodic structures. The songs' lyrics describe the exuberance and poverty of that region of Brazil -the joy, colors and natural beauty, but also sadness, drought and longing of a people who are accustomed to living with extremes. Their stories are movingly and compellingly expressed through Santoro's gift for storytelling and painting with words.
Ian Faquini was born in Brasília and has lived in Berkeley, California since he the age of eight. He graduated from the California Jazz Conservatory and was immediately invited to join the faculty, teaching guitar and Brazilian music. Influences include Guinga and Marcus Tardelli, with whom Ian studied for six years.
Paula Santoro was born in Minas Gerais, where she began her career as part of the local vocal group Nós & Voz and toured the country as lead singer of the progressive rock band Sagrado Coração da Terra. Her enticing blend of jazz and Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) has since become well known through her recordings and frequent TV appearances. She won the Troféu Faísca Award, the Visa Award and was nominated for the Rival Petrobrás Music Award, all as best vocalist. Santoro has performed with a range of luminaries including Edu Lobo, Yamandú Costa, Mário Adnet, Monica Salmaso, Renato Braz and the Muiza Adnet releasing the álbum Mario Adnet - a look on Villa-Lobos nominated for Best Classical Album in the Latin Grammy Awards. She has earned wide critical acclaim in Brazil and Europe, and released numerous albums including Mar do meu Mundo on the Borandá label with special guests including UAKTI, and Paula Santoro, released by Biscoito Fino label, featuring special guests Chico Buarque, Toninho Horta and Jaques Morelenbaum.
Paula and Ian were introduced in 2007 by the influential Brazilian composer Guinga in Rio when Paula was collaborating with Guinga on a recording and tour. Ian had met Guinga at the age of 16, an encounter that changed his life and music. Hearing and falling in love with Guinga's music led Ian to devote himself to exploring his own Brazilian roots through music. Paula and Ian came together musically in 2014 when both were part of the faculty at California Brazil Camp, a performing arts camp focused on Brazilian music and dance. Their mutual admiration sparked a desire to work together, resulting in Metal na Madeira, recorded at the famous Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA in September of 2015.