by Constance Tucker
Winner of the Houston Press Music Awards, Best Female Vocalist and Best Songwriter, Kristine Mills was also a Houston Press Rocks off 100 – Houston’s Most Distinguished Artist. She was a recipient of the Houston Arts Alliance for Established Individual Artists Grant. Mills won a Gold REMI Award for her soundtrack written for the documentary film Collector’s Waltz. In addition to her recording career, Mills played sold-out shows in theaters and performing arts centers as a guest vocalist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and headliner for the Brazilian International Jazz Festival Tours in Brazil. She regularly performs in New York at the Metropolitan Room and Zinc Bar, along with other venues throughout the US.
BOSSAtoo is Mills’ 6th album. Associating with an outstanding cast for the project with: Klaus Mueller on piano, Itaiguara Brandão on acoustic guitar as well as 5-string electric bass, Porthino on drums, and Rafael Barata on percussion, Mills describes how the album came together. “Writing this album was pure joy. Why BOSSAtoo? It’s not #2 as in the second bossa album to follow bossanovafied, but Bossa (also) to include the range of styles within Brazilian music. I loved the challenge of exploring the range within the Brazilian context. I worked to write variations on Samba (3/4 and classic 4/4), Afoxê, Partido Alto, Baião and Bossa Nova. These song really stretched my writing and my guitar playing. I hope you enjoy listening to BOSSAtoo as much as we enjoyed creating it!”
This a classic example of a genre moving forward, excellent songwriting combined with the jazz/latin rhythm figures we all know and love. “Hold Fast” exemplifies this with Mills’ outstanding lyrics and melody set to a funky bossa inspired beat. Mills vocal ability is top notch, “Breathe Your Kiss” finds her scatting and embellishing the melody in a very imaginative and musical manner.
Mills does include two standard selections, but the arrangements and vocal presentation make them much more than just a run of the mill regurgitation of the melody, case in point is “Meditation.” She presents the song as a moody slow ballad. Mills also covers a Sting selection “It’s Probably Me,” again taking the song to a new place that is enjoyable and surprising.
The lyrics penned by Mills represent the most important factor of BOSSAtoo’s success: “Hold Fast,” “Last First Glance,” and “Waiting for Maybe.” Her gifted pen explains why she has been the recipient of so many music awards, and what I hope to be a pathway for others to also one day cover her well-crafted tunes on their own albums in years to come.