10 Questions with Leo Gandelman

brazilian jazz saxophist Leo Gandelman
Ten questions with Brazilian saxophonist Leo Gandelman, Ten!

It’s been a while since Leo Gandelman packed up his saxophones and headed back home to Rio de Janeiro; new opportunities beckoned.  

10 Questions with Leo Gandelman and a few minutes are all it takes to get caught up with the popular saxophonist from Rio.  

With his critically-acclaimed Yellow Sax Marine album looking for a US label release, and with many of his greatest hits featured on The Sounds of Brazil this week,  we thought it would be a perfect times to sit down with Brazil’s most awarded jazz artist to see what he’s been up to Here are 10 questions with Leo Gandelman.

1.    How is life treating you these days? What’s new in your life?

Life has been very busy and very good as well. I’ve been involved with a lot of great projects, concerts such as the Kriol Jazz Festival  in Cape Verde, ‘Brazilian Year’ in Portugal and recently  a small tour with my friend, the American guitarist and bassist Charlie Hunter. We played in São Paulo, the Vitoria Jazz Fest and also the Rio das Ostras Jazz Festival, where we did a pair of shows!

2.   You’ve recorded some wonderful jazz albums these last few years. What’s up with that?

One of my recent projects is the album Vip Vop. It means “Very Important People, Very Ordinary People” and it is a collection of original songs that have an eye on the Brazilian music of the late fifties and early sixties produced in Brazil. The album was released in Europe and Brazil and got great reviews.

3.   More attention is being paid to Samba Soul and the Brazilian horn bands that helped to make it so exciting back in the 70’s – like Banda Black Rio. This has been part of your musical style, too. Is it becoming popular in Brazil again?

Well, horn bands have been popular for a long time in Brazil. There are some musical styles that had attracted more attention recently like Choro, Samba, Bossa, and SambaJazz. For instance, my ‘Black Pearls’ (Perolas Negas) album included several songs in that style, like ‘Nana’ and ‘Mr. Funk Samba’ which I’ve heard on your webstreams lately! And I really lioke Boney James’ new version of ‘Batucada’. Good to see that Dave Koz is paying tribute to American horn bands with his new album, too.

4.   Any plans to record some of those great Samba Soul songs?

Speaking of  Samba Soul; I’ve been experimenting some, but it’s still ‘under construction’!

 5.   What else have you been working on?

I’m very proud of my album Ventos do Norte (Northern Winds). It’s a homage to the pioneering sax players of the Brazilian Northeast who defined the language of the Brazilian saxophone. Something that is very close to my heart! And the release of my current album Yellow Sax Marine has caused quite a stir here in Brazil. It’s a Brazilian jazz Beatles tribute.

6.  A look at your Facebook Page show that you’re as popular as ever. What do your fans like to hear you play at you shows?

I think that after all these years, I’ve created my own sound: one that’s easily recognized by my fans and that’s really both a special feeling and a unique honor! It gives me a sense of freedom to create and explore a variety of musical style and share what I’ve discovered with them. That’s what music’s all  about!

7.  We asked Brazilian jazz listeners to send us their 10 questions with Leo Gandleman, and they miss you here in the States. Could we see you return for a few shows in the US sometime soon?

If you call me yes, for sure !!! 🙂  I really would very much like to be back in the states to play some shows and show off my new albums!

8.  Many Connect Brazil fans are looking forward to the opportunity to visit Rio de Janeiro when time permits. If you were their personal tour guide, what restaurants, clubs and landmarks would you take them to?

There is a lot to see in Rio, a great variety of fabulous restaurants  and some very special places to go. We’d take the cable car ride to Sugar Loaf and visit the Maracanã stadium (site of next year’s World Cup!). I’d drive the scenic route up the twisty tropical road along Corcovado to visit the Cristo Redentor statue of Christ, and coming down, we’d stop for a drink at the Bridal Veil waterfall.  At night, we’d have to hit Rio’s music district in Lapa to visit a few of my musical friends, and then plan a long weekend trip up the coast to the resort town of Buzios. The rest we’d just make up as we go – in true Carioca style!

9.  Favorite Eateries?

Dining? Well, Rio is world-class but also in a class of its own, so there’s lots of casual, street-side Botecos (bars with characteristic ‘Brazilian tapas’ and cold beer on tap), excellent fish restaurants, Spanish, Arabian, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese cuisine, and the world’s best Churrascaria “steak houses” as well.

10.  Everyone has a hobby… what’s yours? Do you still do photography?

Yes, I do still love photography.  Longtime fans may recall that one of my photos was included in the liner notes for my ‘Visions’ album and I still love to shoot when the spirit moves me! I like to cook as well. I like to do Brazilian traditional cooking and it really does entertain me a lot!

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10 Questions with Leo Gandelman