About the Songs
Agua de Beber - ("Water to Drink") There's something infectious about this tune. I've always loved it and knew it had to be part of this collection. The rhythmic energy of the repeating chorus, the hopeful, optimistic quality of the melody,... Jobim was a genius. And Norman's lyric "I need your love or I will die", occurring at the apex of the melody, perfectly describes the urgency of someone yearning for their lover, needing their love like water for life.
Meditation - Another lyric that perfectly fits the ruminating, meditative quality of the melody and soars joyfully on the contrasting bridge - brilliant.
Slow Hot Wind - This song has such a cinematic quality. Danny Embrey wrote the haunting, mysterious line that sets the sultry desert scene and with Dave Karr's shimmering tenor solo, you can almost see the mirage appear.
Sweet Happy Life - Three songs with lyrics by Norman Gimbel inspired me to make this record. "Sweet Happy Life", aka "Samba de Orfeu" was the second of the three. I happened to hear Peggy Lee's version of the song and was surprised to learn there were English language lyrics for this tune I'd heard so many times before as an instrumental. I made a note of it and decided to add it to my repertoire, having no idea that a few years later it would be the title song of my next CD.
Killing Me Softly - Roberta Flack's version of this tune is so iconic, many people assume she wrote it. It's hard to imagine the song without her voice and the groove of her version, but I thought it would be a fun experiment to take it someplace more moody and contemplative. Pianist Phil Aaron is a master of many styles, and the perfect choice to create a reharmonized arrangement that describes a different experience.
Canadian Sunset - This track is relatively long (6:20), but the band was swinging so hard, I didn't have the heart to shorten it! Another cinematic lyric by Norman, the song instantly transports you to snow-covered mountains in Canada. It's great fun to sing this tune, especially with a band like this.
Watch What Happens - Composed by Michel Legrand, this is one of two songs from the film THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG for which Norman wrote English language lyrics after the film's release.
The Girl from Ipanema - As the second most-covered song in the world (the Beatles' "Yesterday" being the first), it's tempting to try to reinvent this one. But I decided to take it at a slow tempo and let the lyrics tell the story. As Norman told me, "it's the oldest story in the world,... a guy sees a lovely girl and she just walks on by, eluding his grasp."
Sway - This is the first in the trio of songs that brought me to the Norman Gimbel Songbook. A number of years ago, Target was doing a TV commercial for their Club Wedd wedding registry, and had me and a male vocalist each demo the song. I loved the Dean Martin recording they played for us as an example, and wondered why I hadn't heard it before. I didn't get the job - the guy did - but the song introduced me to Norman Gimbel!
Bluesette - When I recorded this popular Toots Thielemans tune for my CD SOME CATS KNOW with the composer himself on harmonica, I had no idea that the lyricist for the song had also written "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Killing Me Softly with His Song". I'm happy to have a second chance to record the tune and sing Toots' chromatic harmonica line this time around.
How Insensitive - The guitar/clarinet instrumentation seemed apropos for the song. Simple, intimate and heartbreaking.
Take Me to Aruanda - When I heard this song on a "Best of Astrud Gilberto" compilation, I fell in love with the breezy melody and elysian lyrics and wondered why it it hasn't been covered more often since Astrud's recording in 1965. Actually, there were quite a few obscure gems I disovered while researching Norman's catalog that I wanted to include in this project - maybe that'll be Volume 2! - but I decided this one absolutely had to make the cut.
So Nice - This is #3 in the trio of songs that inspired this record. I was in Vienna, Austria on a cold winter day and ducked into the famous American Bar to warm up. Built in 1908, the place seats about 25-30 people and has a charming pre-Art Deco decor. "So Nice", aka "Summer Samba", was playing on the house music system, and it created a cozy, warm feeling. I thought to myself, "I've always loved this tune,... why isn't it in my book ?" and made a note to add it. When I discovered that Norman Gimbel was the lyricist, I thought "OK, something's going on here...." and decided it was time to look into his catalog.
Adventure - During one of my visits with Norman at his home, he handed me a piece of music from his files saying "Here's something that might interest you". It was a lyric that he'd written to a Jobim ballad called "Olha Maria" and it had never been recorded. (Yes, I was interested!) It's a gorgeous tune, heard as an instrumental in the score for the movie "The Adventurers" (based on the novel by Harold Robbins). I'm thrilled to include the first recording of the song with Norman's lyric in this collection.
I Will Wait for You - Another Michel Legrand song from THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, this one was nominated for an Oscar. I saw Legrand perform it in concert in every possible style, i.e., latin, swing, ballad, waltz, polka, march, etc. Telling the audience it's his most requested song, he seemed to imply that perhaps he's grown weary of it. It was an entertaining bit, but in the end, it's a beautiful melody that people never seem to tire of.
Tristeza - ("Goodbye Sadness") With all the Brazilian tunes on this record, it seemed only fitting to go out with a big, Carnival-style samba. There are a number of recordings of this Haroldo Lobo tune performed in Portuguese, but there aren't many with Norman Gimble's English-language lyric.
photo by Natasha D'Schommer
Connie Evingson - vocals
Danny Embrey - guitar
Joan Griffith - guitar
Andreas Oberg - guitar
Laura Caviani - piano
Tanner Taylor - piano
Phil Aaron - piano
Bob Bowman - bass
Gordon Johnson - bass, background vocals
Ryan Cross - bass
David Schmalenberger - drums
Joe Pulice - drums, percussion
Phil Hey - drums
Rob Perkins - drums
Dave Karr - saxophone, clarinet, flute
Randy Sabien - violin, mandolin
Josh Alvaro - percussion
Miles Hanson - percussion
Lucia Newell - background vocals
Recorded at Creation Audio, Minneapolis, MN
Co-produced and Engineered by Steve Wiese
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