Melbreeze, Animazonia

J Pepper

When you see an album that features some of the most well-known bossa-nova tunes by Jobim, Nascimento, or Jorge Ben Jor, you might think you are in for a sedate bossa experience, with an easy going Brazilian feel.  That my friends, would be an assumption that would be quite off the mark.  Melbreeze is an evocative artist that is clearly into the aesthetic of the experience, whether it be the high fashion of her attire, to the unrestraint of her free-spirited approach or the way she fashions unrestrained arrangements of such well-known classics with the help of producers Jimmy Haslip and Scott Kinsey.  Melbreeze breaths freshness into each tune, including the Kinsey original that is the title track of the album.

Melbreeze was born in the historic port city of Smyrna, Turkey – home to illustrious Greek and Roman settlements. Growing up she was an only child.  Her parents surrounded her with the arts, and as a child her first immersion was ballet at five years old.  Educationally, Melbreeze majored in Business Administration as an undergrad, which led her to further her education in the United States.  She then focused on raising her own family, but never lost her thirst for the arts.  Since her rededication to her artist endeavors Melbreeze has release seven previous albums as a leader: Brisa de Amor (2015), Love: A Reality in Blue Major (2015), Solitude: A Dream In Green Minor (2015), Santepe (2015), Turquoise (2016), Amethyst (2016), Yok Ya! (2016), Turca Flamenca (2017), and now in 2018 her ninth album Animazonia.

Melbreeze has an exotic voice, as seductive as her native country, filled with depth and beauty as striking as Ephesus, possibly the greatest Greco-Roman site on the planet, similarly this refinement reflects in Melbreeze who breaths haunting originality into each tune as she interprets classic Latin tunes and juxtaposes them with rhythmically complex arrangements and colorizations.

“Mas Que Nada,” adorns the album, originally introduced in 1963 by Jorge Duílio Ben Zabella Lima de Menezes aka Jorge Ben, meanwhile known as Jorge Ben Jor, with two different recordings on two albums and two singles on two different labels. Performed by artists from Sergio Mendez to Gilberto Gil to Al Jarreau, the infectious melody is well cared for with Melbreeze.  The intro is given a distinctly Mediterranean flavoring.  Her voice is buoyant and shimmers with an alluring timbre.  Supported by Scott Kinsey: keyboards/trilian bass/programming; Cyril Atef: drums; Larry Koonse: guitar; Selim Bolukbasi: Tulum; Brad Dutz: percussion/finger snaps, this track is a convivial journey of epic proportions.

The Scott Kinsey original and the final track on the album “Animazonia,” is an instrumental closer.  A full-throttle cut featuring Scott Kinsey: keyboards/synthesizer solo/programming; Selcuk Karaman: bass; and Gergo Borlai: drums.  Melbreeze finds herself handling the role of ensemble vocalist. It is a short, just under two-minute track.  A quick paced tune brandished with heavy programming and layers of vocal ornamentations in a repeating hook-oriented fashion in the background, it could almost be considered the supporting instrumentalist to Kinsey’s searing solo lines.  As feverishly as it begins, is as quickly as it ends.  A sendoff of sorts after a journey of thirteen tunes that transcend the listener to much more than one would expect from the tunes you have heard so many times before.  As unique as her name, Melbreeze is impassioned and ignited in her pursuit to be a creative and groundbreaking artist. It is a clear path for her, as this trailblazing vocalist has clearly teamed with the right production lineup of Jimmy Haslip and Scott Kinsey for an end result that is a magnificent listen.

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