Claudia Villela & Heloísa Fernandes; Friday, April 25, 2014

Claudia Villela & Heloísa Fernandes
Friday, April 25
Kuumbwa Jazz Center

“Soulful expression steeped in the now…” – DownBeat 

Claudia Villela and Heloísa Fernandes are two of Brazil’s most talented musical exports. Claudia Villela’s vocal ability knows no limits, as her past collaborations with Toots Thielemanns, Kenny Werner, and Michael Brecker can attest. Pianist Heloísa Fernandes, influenced by Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Hermeto Pascoal, draws heavily from jazz, classical, and Brazilian inspirations. As a team, these two artists engage and spur each other on through creative spontaneity. Both are excellent composers and improvisers whose work expresses the full range of the human spirit.

Claudia Villela can’t remember a time when she wasn’t singing while growing up in her native Brazil. Although she considered going into medicine at one point in her life, the pull of music was too strong, and she ‘compromised’ with a degree in music therapy. Villela emigrated to California in 1984 to join her husband, a Silicon Valley tech engineer who had left Brazil earlier. Although she spoke little English, she dove right into the Bay Area music scene, joining the Stanford University Chorus and, later, the De Anza College Jazz Singers (winners of a DownBeat magazine award). With her classically-trained voice, and creative improvisational abilities, Villela pursued gigging around the Bay Area, often performing with fellow Brazilian expatriates. From the beginning, she followed an uncompromising path in her journey and developed a talent for composing music, as well as becoming known for her five octave vocal range.

Heloísa Fernandes, who makes her Kuumbwa debut, has been playing piano since the age of five. The Sao Paulo native initially studied classical music and eventually went on to attend Sao Paulo’s famed Conservatory of Theater and Music where she earned a degree in piano performance, as well as degrees in conducting and composition. Her talented keyboard work earned her a spot in the top five of Premio Visa de Musica Brasileira, Brazil’s top music competition. Four years later, in 2005, she released her debut recording, Fruto, featuring some of Brazil’s top musicians. She made her international debut at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina in 2008. Fernandes’ music is unique in the way she uses traditional Brazilian folk styles and turns them into intimate, meditative works that often stand in contrast to their original interpretations.

The full scope of Brazilian music moves well beyond the samba and bossa nova styles that are familiar to most North Americans. Brazilian culture envelopes a lush mélange of Portuguese, African, and Arabic music mixed with European classical and folk traditions, all re-imagined with each new generation of artists. It’s a cultural palette reflected in both Villela’s and Fernandes’ own compositions and choice of material. As Villela says, “My singing is the sum of all the music I’ve heard, from Brazilian baroque to bossa nova to free improvisation, the nostalgic and the modern.”

Claudia Villela & Heloísa Fernandes


DATE: Friday, April 25, 2014
VENUE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIME: 7:30 PM
PRICE: $22/Adv $27/Door
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at:
MORE INFO: or 831-427-2227

Media contact:
Sandy Sloan
(831) 427-2227

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