Our Annual Picks From Top Brazilian Music Songs of 2022
2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase! Brazil’s Bicentennial year included an amazing list of musical milestone anniversaries, plus these superb stories, albums, and singles.
Welcome to our annual, end-of-year roundup for Brazilian music in 2022!
2022’s top story is Brazil’s Bicentennial year. The Brazilian Minute carries our exclusive weekly series of stories from Brazil’s first 200 years as a nation. Our deepest appreciation to the Consulate-General of Brazil in Chicago and the Brazilian Foreign Ministry’s Cultural Department.
This special year also brought us several unexpected musical milestone events. 60-year celebrations for Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s Jazz Samba album and Bossa Nova’s legendary concert at Carnegie Hall.
2022 marked 50 years for the first recording of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Aguas de Março’ (The Waters of March). Milton Nascimento’s milestone year marks the 50th anniversary of Clube Do Esquina and we saluted the next steps of his 60-year career as he stepped down from the stage.
We said adeus to the eternal beauty of Gal Costa’s voice.
Here in Chicago, Connect Brazil celebrated its 25th year in service to Brazilian music and culture, while our syndicated weekly show The Sounds of Brazil! achieved 30 years of broadcasting “music from the land of samba and sun!”
And all the while, the Brazilian sound keeps growing, with literally dozens of incredibly good albums and singles. Honestly, this year’s Best of list could have been twice as long.
Thank you for Listening!
2022 is an exciting year for Brazilian music fans. Many of your favorite musicians saluted your love of the music by resuming their music tours to hometown cities coast-to-coast.
As fans, you’ve listened longer – and more often – to our 14 streaming channels and our live streaming station at Connect Brazil. Your 5-star reviews and requests help Brazilian American musicians with their careers. 2022 gives us a pair of new channels to enjoy: The Women of Brazilian Music and The Milton Nascimento Channel (below).
It’s been several years since we could look back to savor what was while looking forward with anticipation. And for that, we are all thankful for the role music plays in our lives.
Now that summer’s come to Brazil, our long winter nights give way to cozy thoughts. So whenever the weather outside is frightful, you’re welcome to turn to us for the warmth of Brazil, and maybe a hot Brazilian spiced cider (try our recipe!) too!
Let it snow!
We chase summer all year long.
What’s next for 2023?
I started Connect Brazil for fans like you and to support the musicians who create the music we love. If you are new to Connect Brazil, welcome!
Firstly, are you on our list for the Connect Brazil Weekender e-letter? Read a current issue. It’s America’s most-read e-letter for Brazilian music and culture. It’s published every other Thursday, and it’s free.
- Watch for our annual Brazilian Valentine Music Showcase on February 1st!
New Music Releases for 2023
We can’t wait for new music for the New Year, so we’re including hints for what you can expect from several of the artists below. And are several more that we are sworn to secrecy on (pinky swear)!
Be sure to listen to our live streaming station on Live365 for the latest music news, especially New Music Wednesdays at 11 am, 2 and 5 pm CT (top of the hour).
And check out the New Music Brazil channel anytime for the Top 100 new Brazilian songs. You can rate the songs, and even create your own custom channel. Always free.
Early 2023 sees us adding three more new channels to the lineup. You’re going to love ’em!
Scott Adams, Midday Host
The Sounds of Brazil’s streaming station at Connectbrazil.com
2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase
Milton Nascimento | ‘Maria, Maria’
Years from now, when we look back at the Best of Brazilian Music for 2022, we’ll reflect on Milton Nascimento’s retirement from live concerts and touring. The stunning announcement came on Sunday night, May 15th, via a web post.
“Music has broadened my horizons,” he said. “In six decades, it took me to the four corners of the world. The other thing that music gave me during these years on the road was great friendships. I often say that without friendships my life would never have been what it is – and neither would my career.”
For many of his fans worldwide, Milton Nascimento’s voice captures the essence of Brazil. Its natural beauty and affinity with nature, the spirit of the Brazilian people, the power of emotion from Brazil’s 500-year history and its 200 years as a nation.
His farewell tour took him all across Brazil and select cities in Europe plus six US cities before ending last month.
To commemorate the tour and to celebrate his 60-year career, Connect Brazil and AccuRadio have teamed up to create the Milton Nascimento streaming channel. Always free and available worldwide, this channel features talented musicians performing Nascimento’s best songs. And of course, Milton Nascimento himself.
Buy it here: Amazon Music
Eliane Elias | ‘Bahia Medley: Saudade da Bahia/Você Já Foi á Bahia’ from Quietude
If 2022 shows us anything it’s that superlatives have a hard time keeping up with Eliane Elias. The vocalist and pianist is a natural at creating her own musical momentum.
Elias was one of the first to resume live performances, post-COVID. Fans returned to hear her songs and stories from her piano duets album, Mirror Mirror.
Released in September 2021, it placed Elias in a unique position. Playing side by side with a pair of piano masters, Chick Corea and Chucho Valdés. April arrived with a 2022 Grammy award for Mirror Mirror as ‘Best Latin Jazz Album. By the time summer peaked, the buzz was heating up on a Latin Grammy nomination. It was awarded to her last month.
Nestled into this timeline is the October arrival of Eliane Elias’s Quietude. Back then, we wrote:
“Quietude’s character begins to show itself with ‘Marina’. It opens with a musical setting that seems rare among Eliane Elias’s recordings: Voice and guitar. It’s as if she were singing to you in your living room.”
Her desire to keep Quietude’s concept fresh and inventive led Elias to record with three of Brazilian guitar masters. Marcus Teixeira, Lula Galvão, and longtime friend Oscar Castro-Neves add to the album’s acoustic presence. Quietude is also helping to authentically establish Eliane Elias as one of Brazil’s top vocalists.
Fan support helped Quietude to #1 on Billboard’s Traditional Jazz Chart. #1 on iTunes Latin & Jazz Charts, and the top spot on Amazon’s Jazz, Latin, and Brazilian Best Sellers list.
Read Connect Brazil’s exclusive Review Roundup for Eliane Elias’s Quietude here.
Cecy Santana | ‘Sao Paulo’
The official video wasn’t quite ready when Chicago’s Cecy Santana released her single ‘Sao Paulo’ in late October. Debuted just a few days ago, and the video turned out to really be worth the wait for 2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase.
With scenes from both Sao Paulo and Chicago, the song’s lyrics and videography unfold to tell Santana’s story of how Brazilians endure the daily grind in one of the world’s most busy and dynamic cities.
“Let’s go,” she sings in Portuguese. “Pay attention to what’s important. Life is hard and we work, work, work to get paid little money. Sao Paulo, Cold City. Sao Paulo, Industrial City. All the people interact in a Virtual World.”
Cecy’s musicality excels in exciting pop directions, and her family’s musical pedigree helps to remind us that Brazil is always in the mix. Even in cold and snowy Chicago, where parts of the video feature the Kingsbury Plaza and the talented Samba 1 Brazilian Dance Group.
Santana is the co-director for this shoot, and she brings a delightfully entertaining twist, one that will keep you engaged throughout. You see, the lyrics tell one part of the story while the video surprises with Brazilian spirit.
“The contrast in the song comes from the attitude that most Brazilians have,” says Cecy Santana. “Even though they work so hard to make ends meet, they keep a positive attitude and make the most of life!”
Read our complete review of Cecy Santana’s ‘Sao Paulo’ here.
Listen To The Brazilian Minute: Milton Nascimento’s Milestone Year
2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase
Ella & The Bossa Beat | ‘Why’ from In The Moment
This time of year, when we think of Brazilian warmth, we’re immediately drawn to Brazilian jazz and those cozy, by-the-fireside moments we cherish so much. That’s been especially true these past few years when the pandemic kept us cloistered away from family and friends.
That’s the inspiration for ‘Why’, the featured single by Ella & The Bossa Beat, the band/father-daughter duo of Ella Borges and Magrus Borges. Their sophomore album is titled In The Moment.
The song’s intimate feel comes to us courtesy of Brazilian saxophonist Rodrigo Sha. However, this song’s lyrics invite us to look deeper within ourselves. As they unfold, vocalist/songwriter Ella reflects on the basic qualities of freedom that were kept from us during this time.
“Do you ever ask yourself?”, she sings. “Why is there a world, if I only stayed one place? if I never took a chance to go beyond from where I came?”
‘Why’ is a beautiful, jazzy story of reflection and spiritual wanderlust. Something that each of us has pondered at some point recently. It also points to the growth and maturity of this rising Brazilian American musician.
“Sha brings sensuality into the song,” explains Ella. “’Why’ has that jazzy soul vibe, but the lyrics really aim to bring self-realization, and to dig deep into more important matters. Why are we here in the world if we are not actively impacting others in a positive way? Things must have meaning if they are around us, such as a world that is so rich in culture, people, and life.”
Tap or click to explore Ella & The Bossa Best here.
Kristen Mather de Andrade | ‘Santa Morena’ from As Bright As The Skies Are Blue
We introduced you to clarinetist Kristen Mather de Andrade in last year’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase. Her debut album, Clarão won new fans and critical acclaim not only for her musicianship but also for the rich tapestry of choros and sambas it held.
If you’re not familiar with this artist and her music, take note. New York-based Kristen Mather de Andrade is the Principal Clarinetist with one of America’s most respected Concert Bands. Classically trained, it’s the path she’s followed since she was handed her first clarinet at age 10.
Mather de Andrade is also a Brazilian American with true affection for Brazil’s Choro and Samba song forms. 2021’s debut album Clarão showcases this facet of her musicality.
“Like many woodwind players, Pixinguinha’s music draws me into it,” she told us recently. “I think his compositional style is very much influenced by his saxophone and flute playing, so to me, it always feels very comfortable and fun to play his Choros. “Carinhoso” is one of the first songs I learned in Portuguese and I still love to sing it after many years of performing it!”
Kristen Mather de Andrade’s new album, As Bright As The Skies Are Blue, is a thematic concept that explores a variety of styles and musical shadings. Included is her refreshing take on Choro master Jacob do Bandolim’s ‘Santa Morena’
Read more about Brazilian American Kristen Mather de Andrade here.
Phill Fest | ‘Sambinha Pro Sizao’ from Seresta
First featured in Connect Brazil’s Spring Into Summer Music Showcase earlier this year, guitarist Phill Fest’s Seresta album is right at the top for 2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase.
The album came together quickly, during a visit to his father’s hometown, the sun-kissed southern city of Porto Alegre, Brazil. A confluence of coincidence led to an opportunity to record with several of Brazil’s finest jazz musicians.
Joao Bosco’s drummer Kiko Freitas plays on a pair of tunes, including the title track which holds special meaning for Phill, and for two-time Grammy winner Howard Levy.
Levy is the song’s co-writer, and he provides the liner notes for Seresta.
“Seresta is near and dear to my heart,” says Levy. “I created it spontaneously in a studio in Chicago with Phill’s father, Manfredo, a fantastic pianist and composer. We plucked it out of the air together and it’s wonderful to hear Phill’s version of it.”
A proud family moment occurred earlier this year when Google honored Manfredo Fest with a special Doodle on his birthday. You can see it here, along with the backstory.
Seresta means ‘Sizzle’ in English and Phill’s guitar sets a wonderful listening mood throughout.
2023 holds a late winter/early spring musical treat in store from Phill Fest, and you can be sure that Connect Brazil will bring it to you, ‘on the air’ and online!
Read our complete review of Phill Fest’s Seresta here.
Listen To The Brazilian Minute: Explaining Choro And Pixinguinha
Robert Hebert | ‘Gift of Heart (Christmas In Rio)’ from Robert Hébert: Bossa Nova Noites … Soul Brasileiros (2023 release)
We’ve come to expect great things from Chicago-born-and-raised producer Robert Hébert.
Recall 2018’s Legacy and Alchemy, where vocalist Alexandra Jackson joined some of the most talented Brazilian musicians ever assembled for a single recording.
Hébert’s vision welcomed Ivan Lins, flutist Hubert Laws, and both Paulo and Daniel Jobim. He invited guitarist Ricardo Silveira, Arthur Maia. Jazz legends Larry Dunn and Larry Williams joined the project. That would be more than enough for most recordings.
However, Hébert’s dedication went deeper by resurrecting “lost” tracks from Miles Davis and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Then, he found final recordings by both Al Jarreau and Oscar Castro-Neves. Legacy and Alchemy was Connect Brazil’s 2018 Album of The Year.
So, when ‘Gift of Heart (Christmas In Rio)’ arrived on our programming desk, we immediately pressed ‘play’.
Gift of Heart
Najee’s flute joins Monique Elen, Mari Bodas, and Curtis King Jr’s smooth vocals to welcome us to the melody. The story is a love song that pulls us south, to the land of samba and sun, just in time for Christmas and the warmth of the Season.
“The love songs I hear this lovely time of year. Our hearts are full and life is filled with wonder dear. Gift of heart, we’re all a part, love has brought a brand new start. Never alone, Christmas in Rio, New love is born. Christmas in Rio.”
Guitarist Joao Castilho brings us an acoustic interlude before vamping over percussionist Andre Siqueira’s silky samba riff leaves us wanting more.
2023 promises just that, with the arrival of an expansive project dubbed Robert Hébert: Bossa Nova Noites … Soul Brasileiros. The series will feature a multi-ethnic, diverse group of talented Brazilian female vocalists including Mari Bodas, Luiza Cruz, Monique Elen, and Vitoria Moraes.
Hébert notes that each of these singers “has chosen to travel this path together and with us to honor their (Brazilian) culture, as we tell the universal story of the Africa-Brazil-U.S. to the world popular music diaspora. I am greatly honored by that vision and their trust.”
Read more about producer Robert Hébert here.
Roy Stephansen | ‘Happy Birthday Samba Again 2022’
Have you been following trombonist Roy Stephansen’s story on these pages and via our streaming network? If so, then you know that he’s created some wonderful music from his home studio in the low-numbered latitude reaches of Norway.
To put it another way, favorites like ‘North Lights’, ‘Carefree Days In Cab Frio’, and ‘Bitcoin Samba’ have all been crafted and recorded a stone’s throw away from the Arctic Circle.
But now, there’s breaking news. Those same songs have inspired Stephansen to move south.
1,200 miles south, to one of Norway’s popular tourist destinations. The village of Helgeroa lies in a sheltered harbor on the western shore of the Oslo Fjord.
The new environment has sparked a wave of expression, prompting Roy to revisit several of his earlier songs. Each of these refreshed tunes provides new surprises while staying close to their original versions.
We selected ‘Happy Birthday Samba Again 2022’, a festive jazz samba with percolating rhythm guitar accents underneath Stephansen’s trombone chorus.
The images in the above video come from Roy Stephansen’s camera. No doubt taken during his daily walks along the ocean. To the south, lies Denmark. To the west, Sweden. The east? Scotland and Iceland.
If you ever wondered about the power of Brazilian jazz, well… now you know!
Catch up with Roy Stephansen’s music here.
Michael Ross | ‘Her Latin Dance’ from Bright Moments Ahead
Chicago jazz guitarist Michael Ross makes our Best of Brazilian Music ’22 Showcase with Four Seasons To Cross. As the title suggests, the album touches on his personal journey throughout a full year.
Eight originals follow carry Ross’s changing musical points of view through a number of creative settings. Bright, upbeat melodies, or relaxing chill grooves, Four Seasons To Cross also points its compass to Brazilian jazz with the title track and ‘Hot In Brazil’.
Gifted as a songwriter, session star and recording artist, Ross’s interest in Brazil grew over the past few years when the pandemic limited contact and creativity for some many of our favorite musicians.
That’s when most of us dreamed of getting away to a breezy island with shaded palm trees. The difference between us and Michael is that he knows how to turn daydreams into musical getaways.
But it’s not the first time. If you go back to Michael Ross’s album Bright Moments Ahead, you’ll find ‘Her Latin Dance’ a song filled with island passion and a sunny, carefree vibe.
So, what’s in store for 2023? Ross hints at a couple of ideas, and one of them carries a Brazilian vibe.
Nice to know that a certain jazz guitarist from Chicago knows how to plan a musical itinerary for your imagination, right? We’ll keep you posted!
Get to know Michael Ross and Four Seasons To Cross here.
Listen To The Brazilian Minute: Roosevelt’s River of Doubt
2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase
Marcos Ariel | ‘Second Chance’ from This is Bossa Nova Volume III (2023 release)
“I started writing this song during my morning walks in Los Angeles. I actually tend to write a lot of new songs when I’m working out in the mornings. I think I’m a morning person.”
So begins our story for Marcos Ariel’s ‘Second Chance’. It’s a top tune for our Best of Brazilian Music ’22 Showcase. And it marks a return to the microphone for the talented keyboardist and flutist. Perfect for 2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase.
There’s a sense of nostalgic charm to Ariel’s latest recording. It has a style that invites us to Rio de Janeiro’s Golden Age of the late 50s. You’ll have to close your eyes to see it, a setting so replete with tropical romance that even Miami must have been jealous.
Strings and keys introduce this love song of hope and regret. Ariel and Lulu Joppert trade their lyrics before joining in unison to reunite their affair.
“If you come back, my tears will end. No more saudades, I will surrender. Your love is all I need to win. Let’s give a second chance on our romance.”
In addition to his vocals at the piano, Marcos Ariel also wrote the music and lyrics for ‘Second Chance’. He was inspired by thoughts of a past love that left sweet memories.
Marcos tells us that ‘Second Chance’ will be part of his 10-song, 2023 album, This is Bossa Nova Volume III. It will be a follow-up to his 2018 album This is Bossa Nova Volume II.
Catch up with 10 Questions with Marcos Airel here.
Gal Costa | ‘Begin The Beguine’ from Plural
Let our final entry for 2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase act as a coda for Gal Costa’s incredible career. At 77, Brazil’s legendary singer (and perhaps its best) passed away on November 9th in Sao Paulo. Complications from a recent surgery were cited, but unverified.
In many ways, Gal Costa paced the trajectory and success of MPB (Brazilian Popular Music). She had a 6th sense for changing her sound and style. Known as the “Janis Joplin of Brazil”, she abandoned her Tropicalia days when the time was right. She pivoted to her classic MPB style that won the hearts and ears of generations of Brazilians.
So, which song should we select to honor Gal Costa? With so many to choose from, it’s a difficult decision.
We went with a longtime favorite for listeners to our syndicated radio show, The Sounds of Brazil. Taken from her 1990 album, Plural, Costa transforms this Cole Porter classic
Produced by saxophonist Leo Gandelman, Plural marked a major comeback for Gal Costa. Gandelman places her in a jazzy, tropical style that she carried through several recordings, and that came to define Costa’s style.
The Sounds of Brazil is celebrating its 30th broadcast anniversary this year. However, in 1990, our radio show was still two years in the future.
Plural was a major influence in the show’s creation. Producer and host Scott Adams was in the Rio de Janeiro studio for the recording of this song. You can read the story of that inspiring encounter here.
God bless you, Gal, pra sempre.
Buy Here | Amazon | Apple Music | Spotify
Music, Travel, Friends, And Fun! 2022 Marks Connect Brazil’s 25th Year
2022’s Best of Brazilian Music Showcase
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