In this episode of the Australian Jazz and Groove Podcast we talk to Anje West and Kym Ambrose from The View from Madeline's Couch about their new release Boss Nova Sunset Club.
Listen as they relate how they made a life long commitment to Brazilian Music and the joy of recording with and Performing with Brazilian Drummer Marcio Bahia who they brought out from Brazil just for the recording of Bossa Nova Sunset Club.
“A landmark album, and a significant artistic contribution to the history of Brazilian-influenced Australian music” - Mike Ryan, Director-Founder, TribOz - Centro Cultural Brasil-Australia
Australian Jazz and Groove Podcast - Episode 4
Welcome back to another episode of the Australian Jazz and Groove Podcast my name is David Galea and its great to be able to bring you some more music from some of Australia’s best jazz and groove composers. If you’d like to get in touch for whatever reason whether that be to submit some music notify us of a new release or any gigs that are coming up that you would like plugged then please email me at email@example.com also if you’d like to be on our mailing list please also email us to that very same address. So what do we have planned for this episode? Well we’ll be talking to Anje West and Kym Ambrose from Brisbane band “The View from Madeleine’s Couch”. We’ll also hear from the “Dave Dower Trio” as well as new track from Melbourne band “Pickpocket” and then we will finish with a track from Brazilian bass player and composer Rodrigo Salgado. But first let's launch into a track from two time ARIA award winner, producer, composer and kicking bass player Mitch Cairns. Mitch has quite the CV. Go to his website and you can check out who he’s worked with some of Australia most recognised artists. People like Brian Cadd, Kate Ceberano, Leo Sayer and the list goes on. He released a recording not long ago called the “After Hours Project” and we’ll hear a track from that. It features Mitch on bass, Bill Risby on keys and Johnny Salerno on drums. So here it is this is called “Go Easy On Me”.
MUSIC - MITCH CAIRNS - THE AFTER HOURS PROJECT - GO EASY ON ME
MUSIC - DAVID DOWER TRIO - MADE IN SOFIA - THE JUNCTION
So that was the “Dave Dower Trio” with a track called “The Junction” from an album of his called “Made in Sofia” and that featured Dave on piano, Luke Fowler on bass and Matt Fisher on drums. Now Dave is a South Gippsland local where I live now living in Melbourne and he recorded that album while on tour in Bulgaria. And before that we heard a track from bassist, producer and composer Mitch Cairns with a track from “The After Hours Project” called “Go Easy On Me”. So now its my great pleasure to introduce Anje West and Kym Ambrose from “The View from Madeleines Couch” local legends in Brisbane. To get us into the picture as to what they’re all about lets listen to a track from their latest recording called “Bossa Nova Sunset Club” and this track was written by their bass player also another Brisbane legend called OJ Newcomb and this is a track called “Meu Anjo” and please forgive my pronunciation no doubt I got that wrong. So it features OJ on bass, Anje on vocals, Kym Ambrose on vibraphone, Bruce Woodward on guitar and special guest drummer from Brazil percussionist Marcio Bahia. So here is “Meu Anjo”
MUSIC - THE VIEW FROM MADELEINES COUCH - BOSSA NOVA SUNSET CLUB - MEU ANJO
Well its nice to welcome to the Australian Jazz and Groove Podcast Anje and Kym from “The View from Madeleines Couch”. Welcome guys.
Anje: Hello Dave. Thanks very much for having us.
Kym: Hello Dave.
David: It’s fantastic to have you on the show and for those that may not have heard from “The View from Madeleines Couch” before could you just give us a brief history as to how long you’ve been around and what kind of music you guys play.
Anje: Sure so this year were coming up to our 20, no we’ve just had our 22nd anniversary for the band and we play Brazilian music, we play a lot of Bossa Nova and samba and Brazilian jazz and I guess we’ve been together for 6 years in 2004 which is when we took our first trip to Brazil. We felt we really needed to go and study and that’s when we started also writing our own music in this kind of style.
David: So how did you evolve like how did you noticeably change your approach to this music once you’d come back from being in Brazil?
Anje: It changed us significantly it was a huge turning point for us in so many ways in first in trusting ourselves playing this music you know we’re obviously not Brazilian but making connections and building friendships with incredible Brazilian musicians who were our teachers over there that first time we went. Who kind of gave us faith to keep doing what we were doing and to not to worry about not being Brazilian and not playing it like a Brazilian band in inverted commas like a Brazilian band might play it but to play with respect and integrity yeah they were very happy that we loved the music so much and that we put our hearts into it. That is what was really important for us.
Kym: Get us inside the music find out the nuts and bolts of it how it works. I mean Bossa nova music especially has such intricate chord changes the go in different directions. So to figure out why that is or how it is you listen to the music that came before then and so then you can see the lineage of how its connected to Bossa nova and then I recently read the history of Bossa nova in a book and about Joao Gilberto who was the greatest explainer of Jobim and stuff and how he came across playing that very stylistic guitar groove which is known as Bossa Nova sort of which comes from a guitar. He got that from percussion instruments that were in samba and he worked on that for many years living in basically in the bush and just playing and practicing and trying to figure out how he could re-create the whole groove just with a guitar.
David: Very cool
Kym: Working that out and just yeah just enjoying it and trying to figure it out.
Anje: Yeah trying to figure it out.
Kym: It made a lot of sense when you had your feet in the sand on Coco cabana beach with a beer in your hand listening to Bossa Nova or Samba you go ok I understand why the groove is the way it is because that’s the way the people walk that’s the way they feel. That sort of groove and it makes people feel happy. So that was a big thing of actually going and seeing it and feeling it.
Anje: And feeling it and living it.
Kym: Why the music is the way it is. Why it bounces in that beautiful two feel and those little accents that kick it along.
David: Yeah so it’s almost like you had to go and experience not just the music but the culture
Anje: That was so important because yeah it was incredibly important to be part of that and to talk to people about it and to understand where it comes from and we’ve made friends we have friendships now with people we met 16 years ago who are still part of you know Marcio the drummer we recently worked with is one of them, the family of our first teacher over there so we’ve built these beautiful friendships that have remained really important to us over the years that started because we just wanted to go there and study but our trips there became so much more than that.
David: Yeah right so it sounds like you really you decided to make a proper commitment to the music because I know as a musician you can go to a gig and they say well lets play a Bossa and you kind of feel a little bit sometimes like a bit of a fraud because you know there’s this whole you know there’s this whole backstory you know there’s this whole culture but you don’t know it so there really must have been an amazing thing to get that perspective.
Anje: Yeah it it really was.
Kym: To physically be there like for me was you know we learnt off a couple of great people and stuff but like I said that first time we went to coco cabana beach and just sat there and listened to music playing on the radio or some guy busking or something and the feeling that people had it was ok well that’s what the girl from Ipanema comes from. Ipanema’s the next beach along they were just sitting there in a bar just watching people walk past and there's a few other things but its just you can understand why he wrote that with that groove it just that's the way that she walked. The samba is all about dancing if you watch a great samba dancer they're moving their doing this thing in time with the music and that's the way they walk everyone just
Anje: And they yeah dancers and musicians communicate and it's an amazing thing to see.
David: Yeah I imagine it would. So did you study the language as well because I've noticed on your latest recording that I've listened to your singing in Portuguese so did you have to then get a bit of a grasp on the language as well.
Anje: I did very much so. I started singing in Portuguese pretty much when the band started we weren't playing exclusively Brazilian music for the first few years of the bands life we were doing a few other bits and pieces. But it was always the Brazilian music that made my heart sing and made me feel the best when I was performing. I couldn't speak Portuguese when I started learning to sing in that language but leading up to the trip to Brazil I had some lessons some Portuguese lessons and my accent wasn't too bad because I’d been learning by ear from the recordings so I couldn't understand it very well. I had a couple of Brazilian friends who helped me with translations and of lyrics and things so I did understand eventually what I was singing about. That became more and more important to me to not just be a parrot and give songs inflections or feelings when I was singing it that weren't intended to be there because I was certainly doing that when I started. But once I got back from Brazil I started working much harder on my pronunciation and I learned to speak it not I wouldn't say that I'm fluent by any means but that first three months in Brazil we didn't know anyone apart from maybe two people for the whole trip who spoke English so I had to really I had to get my Portuguese boots on and shuffle.
David: So you were sort of thrown into and it's like you had to sink or swim so that's the best way to learn a language isn't it?
Anje: It is the best way to learn. So had my vocabulary got pretty good my grammar was terrible and still is but you know I could have a conversation. I could have a conversation with someone and talk about what we were doing there and what we did back in Australia and ask them questions and that was the best my Portuguese has ever been on that first trip. Yeah so I did some learning just to make sure that I’m singing the language as well as I can and I have written in Portuguese as well but with help from with my Brazilian friends to help me check grammar and phrasing and that kind of stuff.
David: Yeah cause I noticed on your album is it “Levar” is that how you say it?
David: Thats you’ve written that in Portuguese is that correct?
Anje: Yes yes it is. So I wrote that I wrote that song for Marcio actually. So when I write in Portuguese I try to think of it in that language rather than having an English lyric in my head and then translating it. I try and think of it in the Portuguese that I know how to use and then kind of look up words or I ask for advice about how to make a sentence flow or a phrase flow with the right grammar and you know that sort of stuff. So Marcio helped me a little bit with that too. I had to jiggle around the words in the chorus was not sitting really well for me when I was singing it so I had to work a bit on that but then yeah I got it in the end.
David: So Kym harmonically is Brazilian music based on a set of sort of folk tunes or is it because I know for example some of the Bossa novas have very much a jazz heavy influence chord-ally is there a set of folk tunes in Brazil that you sort of have to get a handle on or what’s the case?
Kym: A lot of the music that came before I mean Jobim was pretty much the start of the new wave which is Bossa nova’s new beat. So Jobim and Menescal and Carlos Lyra and Joao Gilberto were all at the forefront of all that the same time so it was a coincidence with those guys taking it the next step and making it more sophisticated. So the music that came before that was a bit possibly you could say was a bit more simpler didn’t have as many changes and stuff like that it was still folkish.
Anje: The rhythm was still there.
Kym: Yeah but then when it became with those guys because of their love of jazz they started to throw in different things and they were just like a song like “Wave” and you’ve played like that it just goes through so many different key changes and it still doesn’t have a key. If someone says what key do you play it in. Well I start it could be anything. They just don’t have a barrier of keys if it wants to go that way they will go that way.
Anje: Yeah they don’t have so many rules it seems. You listen to someone like Hermeto Pascoal they kind of throw the rule book out the window. If it feels like it can go there then go there take the song there.
David: Yeah great.
Kym: You know with people trying their music they don’t freak out like some with certain styles of music.
David: There’s no Bossa police.
Kym: No exactly and there’s no salsa police. If you play the groove the wrong way they’ll kill you it's like put the high hat on 1 and 3 and then it's not gonna work. But once you get the groove the piano player that we studied with he made us work on this groove and he got us to play the groove and feel where it was and feel the accents of it and then once we really got into that that solidified what we were doing because what we were doing was pretty good but a little bit Western in a way.
MUSIC - THE VIEW FROM MADELEINES COUCH - BOSSA NOVA SUNSET CLUB - A TONGA DA MIRONGA DO KABULETE
David: The Bossa Nova Sunset Club you released that last year is that correct?
Anje: Yeah at the end of last year. It feels it still feels very fresh because we didn’t really get a chance to go the whole you know go the whole promo touring road with it but I feel like its our most beautiful album that we’ve made.
David: And you had a special guest on drums Marcio.
Anje: Marcio Bahia
David: So how did he get involved? Did he come out specifically for the recording?
Anje: Yes he did we brought him out. So we met Marcio in 2004 kind of at the end of our time in Rio before we left Rio and Kym met him at a drum shop and just by chance met him because he heard in conversation that Marcio was having with the shop owner the name of a musician that we both love that’s been kind of my muse and inspiration Joyce Moreno and Kym asked about Kym asked the shop owner you know was that guy playing with Joyce? And he's gone oh that’s Marcio he’s going to tour with her in France and Kym was like were going to France in a couple of weeks and he went hang on I’ll get him and you can meet him and you can talk to him so he did that and Marcio and Kym met and swapped emails and we just stayed in we didn’t get to see them in France but we stayed in touch and then in 2008 when we went back again and this was the trip that we took OJ and our band drummer Mark Henman for a big kind of really to write some stuff for the new album and play some shows and do some more study but with them. So Marcio we hooked up with Marcio for beers when we got when we got sort of first got to Rio and it’s 11 o’clock at night and he’s ringing friends and saying my friends from Australia are here and how about they come over to our little bar in Niteroi next week and play at our show?
Anje: What? What are you even talking about? And he’s like no it will be great come. We were just pretty nervous cause the guys that Marcio was playing with in this trio with were like heavy heavy dudes who turned out to be the most beautiful, gorgeous, big open hearted people you could ever meet. And Marcio he’s been playing he was playing drums with Hermeto Pascoal for thirty years. And Hermeto's one of the just.
David: Wow, so he's part of the fabric isn’t he?
Anje: He is part of the fabric.
Kym: He's one of the visionaries of Brazilian music contemporary he can play you know multiple instruments. He can talk we saw him at a concert he’s talking for like ten minutes to the audience of people in their twenties.
David: Just captivating them.
Anje: Yeah he's like a wizard.
Kym: Yeah he's would just say I’m gonna write a song. Ok lets write a song so he just starts laying it down and tell the bass player you play this play this
Anje: Tell Marcio a rhythm and then get on to it. So yeah that was his creative was boundless and so Marcio he had been very close to him and his family for many many years so he’s a you know he’s a big dude over there but he’s just this gorgeous, humble, gentle, beautiful human being who feels like our you know he feels like a brother to us. We became very close and we brought Marcio Marcio came to Australia in 2012 with Hermeto to do some shows and while he was here we brought him up to Brisbane from Adelaide.
David: Oh nice
Anje: And we did a really beautiful show together with him at the Jazz Club at the Brisbane Jazz Club and then again in 2014 we brought Marcio out again to play a heap of shows with us and to be the ambassador the kind of unofficial ambassador for a Brazilian festival that I was producing and that was really really special. And we were back there in when were we there?
Anje: So 2012-13 over that summer thats the last time we were back in Brazil and we toured we had like a proper tour. Kym and I went over and we were joined by Marcio and the other two musicians that he was doing that original gig with in 2004 that he invited us to play with. So on guitar we had Dino Rangel whose an amazing jazz guitarist and Mazinho Ventura on bass who he’s played with Marcos Valle toured with him for years Joao Donato just all the big hitters but these guys are just super humble super lovely and up for anything pretty much they’ll play any gig any time they don’t care who they play with they just want to make music.
David: Yeah so do you think their humility sort of gave you took that barrier away for you to go you know what it doesn’t matter that these guys are heavy we’re just gonna play our music because we know that they’re cool is that because that would be pretty daunting otherwise.
Anje: It was pretty scary but their attitude just made us feel so comfortable and at home in what we were doing and they just got us and they understood that the reasons that we play this music come from such an honest place they were like lets do it lets make some music together.
MUSIC - VIEW FROM MADELEINES COUCH - BOSSA NOVA SUNSET CLUB - YELLOW AND BLUE
David: So what was it like having Marcio in the studio with you like to have that heritage knowing that he brought that with him and then did you notice is there anything you could say was like a defining moment in the studio?
Kym: He could play brushes like there’s probably a handful of guys in Brazil that can play brushes like he does and probably he’s at the top because he can just do some really gentle things on brushes he can do that (drum sound) and then add accents on other parts and just re-create things in double time you know just like out of the whole week of recording we did 14, 15 tracks I made quite a few mistakes and did some re-dubs and stuff like that between Marcio and OJ I think there was two mistakes and one of them was a cross stick that he did was maybe half a beat late or something and that was it.
Anje: It was just nothing.
Kym: It was just bang those guys just went bang.
Anje: And we’d had a heap of shows in the run up to recording which was great so we got to play as a band before we went into the studio and Marcio is a meticulous rehearser and researcher so even though you know he’s played a lot of this material with us before he’s still he’s just so meticulous in the way he rehearses and practices. So when we in you know we got into the studio and it felt like we’d been playing together for years like all of us together.
Kym: Having those 8 or 9 gigs beforehand.
Anje: But it also felt really natural and we all I thought anyway that we all played differently to how we would have played without him. But it all felt so natural and it just flowed so beautifully having him in the studio with us. It was absolutely incredible I’ve never had a recording experience like it before.
David: Yeah wow that’s awesome.
Kym: He's also become a great friend and he’s been through a couple of hard times in the last two years losing
Anje: Well he lost his that’s why I wrote “Levar” for him. His wife his partner of many years passed away two years ago just a couple of days ago was the anniversary of her death.
David: Oh that’s sad.
Anje: One of his best friends which is the guitarist that we worked with Dino Rangel within three months of each other so last year was incredibly hard for him losing two people he loved so much. And then so it was pretty lovely actually to have him here sort of coming away from that leaving Brazil and having he was here for like nearly two months about maybe six, seven weeks and just having that space I think it was really he talks about that time as being a really healing time.
Kym: He's just such a giving guy I mean even last time I was there he gave me all this hand written notes of grooves and rhythms and accents and all sorts of things, like different 3/4, 5/4, 7/8, 9/8, 12/8 whatever all these different grooves and different ways of playing and exercises. Just gave it to me. I mean everyone in Brazil be careful when you ask a Brazilian and say that’s a really nice shirt you're wearing because they’ll probably give it to you. So generous and for us coming so far away they just wanted to help and they were just amazed that we were interest in their music and stuff.
David: Yeah and it's great cause you talk about that generosity you can hear it in you music in that recording. You know I listen to a lot of recordings that are great like really sort of heavy jazz stuff that’s sort of challenges you but it was really nice to sort of listen to an album that just made you feel good. You can just fell that pocket that Marcio's got in it. But I really thought the other guys in the group that aren’t from Brazil not you guys but other guys they really just lifted with it. You could hear them in that recording lift with that groove.
Kym: They still got to play the way they do. Like Bruce played just the way he plays. He plays a bit of Brazilian groove but he plays in his own way. Thats what I wanted because we are not from Brazil so he’s just a guitarist that wants to play with us and was fantastic and he’s gonna play this way and that’s great. He's got a little offshoot of it. I mean its not heavy jazz that the hardcore people are gonna go listen to that triplet and bloody I’m not really fussed about that but as long as they groove to I’d rather have someone I’m happy if someone wants to sit in a chair and fall asleep to the music that’s great.
David: I wanna go have a beer.
Anje: Yeah I’d rather people have a real heart response or real emotional response to it rather than a cerebral one. But yeah that album is particularly so much from the heart for us.
David: Thats a really nice thought. You were talking before about “Levar” and how you wrote that for Marcio. I was wondering if you’d be able to explain what the lyrics mean about that tune before we listen to it as the end of this interview.
Anje: Levar came very very quickly to me after we’d just Face-Timed with Marcio not long after Danni had passed away and it was really you know it was so beautiful to see him but it was so hard to see him in such pain and grieving and the next morning it kind of poured out of me in about half an hour. There it was and I knew I couldn’t finish writing it really until Marcio came here because the song didn’t have its rhythm yet and I didn’t want to put anything to it or make it be anything until he had until he was here really and we could figure it out or he could figure it out with me and for me and what he did on it was I just thought was so perfect.
David: Yeah its great I listened to it and now that you’ve said that its a story about loss Im assuming because I can’t understand the words but its got this killer groove to it as well.
Anje: Oh we had such a fun afternoon doing that in the studio
Kym: Just sitting on the floor playing little wood blocks and things
Anje: I played a few, I played surdo and a couple of other things on it but Marcio laid down most of the rhythm tracks and he showed me what to play but yeah he had a lot of fun he was just sort of looking around the room and seeing oh there’s some kashishi’s over there I’m gonna grab them and found some woodblocks to pay and sort of laid it all out and was like ok Pauly hit record and he’d just start doing stuff and then wed just sort of yeah move it in and out of the song. Yeah that was such a one of the most beautiful experiences.
David: So what do the actual lyrics in Portuguese mean in the tune?
Anje: You know there’s not that many words in it but the verses just talk about the beautiful things about the person who has gone that you’ll remember and the chorus is saying “Lemanja” is the goddess of the sea and it’s asking Lemanja to take sadness away with her on the tide. So that’s what the song is.
David: Yeah cool. So quickly where can people buy your music from so that they can support you?
Anje: They can buy the album vinyl or CD or digital download on band camp. So its
David: Well guys I can highly recommend that everyone go out and buy this album particularly buy a physical copy because the artwork is stunning. Well Kym and Anje from “The View from Madeleines Couch” its been so awesome to have you on the Australian Jazz and Groove podcast. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today and all the best for the future guys.
Anje: No worries thank you so much
Music - THE VIEW FROM MADELEINES COUCH - BOSS NOVA SUNSET CLUB - LEVAR
So that was “The View from Madeleine’s Couch” from their Bossa Nova Sunset Club release from 2019 and that was a track called “Levar” and now to a new recording from a Melbourne band “Pickpocket”. Now “Pickpocket” are under the leadership of bassist and composer Craig Strain and this is a single off their soon to be released recording and it’s available now on their “Pickpocket” band camp page. So please go and check it out. Now “Pickpocket” feature on drums Matthias Edward, as we said Craig Strain on bass, on guitar Neil Boland, on percussion Phil Binotto, on trumpets Miles Izzo and Alex Howroyd, Brett Evans on sax and Andrew Boyle on keys. Quite a big band so this is their first single as we said from that release and its called “How ‘Bout It?”
MUSIC - PICKPOCKET - HOW ‘BOUT IT?
David: So that was “How ‘bout it?” From Melbourne band “Pickpocket” that was super funky and great horn section on that just killing it. Well now to our very last track for this episode and we are continuing with he Brazilian theme by listening to a release from Brazilian bass player but now Melburnian Rodrigo Salgado and a track from his release entitled “Somewhere”. We will listen to that title track which also features his Brazilian buddies Misael Silvestre on piano, Pedro Almeida on drums, Livio Almeida on saxophone and as we said Rodrigo Salgado on bass. So this is a track entitled “Somewhere”.
MUSIC - RODRIGO SALGADO - SOMEWHERE - SOMEWHERE
David: So that was Rodrigo Salgado and the title track from his release “Somewhere”. Well we’ve come to the end of this episode folks. So good to have been able to catch up with Anje West and Kym Ambrose from “The View from Madeleines Couch”. Also great to hear music from Mitch Cairns, Dave Dower, Pickpocket and Rodrigo Salgado. So please support these great artists by going to their Bandcamp page and buying their music and please if you can leave a positive review on whatever platform you listen to this podcast that would be much appreciated if you do that. So until next time take care and its bye for now. Cheers.