Fleurine, jazz vocalist and Brazilian music authority, has gained a devoted international following for her “warm, enveloping sound and gentle rhythmic drive” (Los Angeles Times) and her “cunning brand of vocal wizardry” (JazzTimes). A Dutch native, she spent summers visiting her grandparents and great uncle in Portugal, becoming fluent in Portuguese and leading her first Brazilian cover band in her teens. She went on to become the first singer authorized to translate into English the lyrics of the legendary Chico Buarque, for her spellbinding 2008 Sunnyside release San Francisco (produced by Robert Sadin). She was also the sixth lyricist worldwide, following in the footsteps of Abbey Lincoln and Jon Hendricks, to write and record lyrics to music by Thelonious Monk, specifically her adaptation of “Think of One” for her EmArcy/Universal debut album Meant to Be! (featuring Tom Harrell, Christian McBride, Dutch guitar great Jesse van Ruller and more, with liner notes by Hendricks himself).
She has also composed lyrics for songs by Kenny Dorham, Curtis Fuller, Joshua Redman and others.
On her self-produced 2019 Sunnyside release Brazilian Dream, Fleurine for the first time performs nearly all her own original music, highlighting her extraordinary working band Boys from Brazil as they draw on a wide range of popular and folkloric genres from bossa nova and samba to baião. Her longtime collaborator, master guitarist Chico Pinheiro, a major presence onSan Francisco, returns on two tracks, with additional cameos by Brad Mehldau (Fleurine’s husband) on piano and Rhodes and Chris Potter on tenor sax and alto flute. In a historic first, guitarist Ian Faquini’s haunting piece “Contradiction – Contradição” features the first lyrics ever written by famed Brazilian composer Guinga, Faquini’s teacher and mentor (with Fleurine’s English translation).
Fleurine is donating nearly all of the proceeds from Brazilian Dream to Estrela da Favela, a small idealistic school located in the challenged Mangueira neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. It is her way of giving back to the country that has inspired her throughout her career.
Following her studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Fleurine immersed herself in the New York scene of the mid-1990s, eventually settling in an apartment just steps away from Bradley’s, the storied jazz club and communal hang, now long defunct. There she struck up friendships with greats including Roy Hargrove, who schooled her on American culture and also enlisted her for a whirlwind tour of Cuba (in preparation for his Crisol project). She attended countless New York jam sessions, audited classes at the New School and City College, and was soon landing engagements at Birdland, the Blue Note and other top venues as well as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival and many more.
Following her sophomore release Close Enough for Love (EmArcy/Universal), a duo outing with Mehldau, Fleurine recorded Fire with Robert Sadin producing. She soared alongside the likes of Gil Goldstein, Seamus Blake, Johan Plomp and Peter Bernstein, as well as Mehldau and drummer Jeff Ballard in their first recorded encounter. On San Francisco she showcased Chico Pinheiro’s original compositions as well as those of Chico Buarque and Francis Hime (all three share the first name Francisco). The San Francisco lineup also included Chris Potter as well as guitarist Freddie Bryant, cellist Erik Friedlander, bassist Doug Weiss and percussionist Gilad.
Fleurine’s lyrics are featured in the Hal Leonard anthology Sing Jazz! and on “Love Sublime,” the title track of Brad Mehldau and Renee Fleming’s 2008 duo album for Nonesuch. Fellow vocalists, including Carolyn Leonhart and Clarice Assad, have found inspiration in her lyrics as well, performing them with their own groups.
Fleurine’s “effortlessly musical” work (The Guardian) has had a decisive impact, proving her “an artist to be reckoned with” (Die Welt).
Meant to be!
Wanting to sing songs of Jazz in a different way, thinking it would be hard to add anything to the repertoire of her favorite vocalists, she set out to write her own lyrics to compositions of famous Jazz composers such as Thelonious Monk , Kenny Dorham, Ray Bryant, Curtis Fuller and Thad Jones, but also to songs of contemporaries such as Tom Harrell and Joshua Redman, thus creating a brand new vocal repertoire, writing in English and in Portuguese.
She recorded these songs on her debut Album “Meant to Be!” in N.Y, with a band consisting of Tom Harrell(tp), Ralph Moore(ts), Renee Rosnes(p), Jesse van Ruller (g), Christian McBride(b), Billy Drummond (d) and Grammy Award winning Producer Don Sickler (who produced a/o Joe Henderson, Jimmy Smith, Christian McBride and Mark Whitfield).
The Album, which was received excellently by the International Press, (see reviews) was released on English Independent label “Bluemusic”. It immediately became a regular Jazz Hit in a/o The Netherlands and England.
Shortly after, Fleurine toured all over the world, performing with her own band at renowned Jazz clubs such as Birdland and Blue Note(recorded for TV) in New York, the renowned PizzaExpress Jazzclub in London and at International festivals such as the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Edmonton Jazz festival in Canada, the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, the Istanbul Jazz Festival in Turkey and the North Sea Jazz Festival, where she performed frequently.
She also debuted as a Producer on guitarist Jesse van Ruller’s first album as a leader: “European Quintet”.This album became a top seller in Japan.
Fleurine was soon noticed in the International Jazz scene and got invited to tour as a guest vocalist with bands such as the Roy Hargrove Quintet, at the Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba, and with the T.S. Monk Band in Canada and at the North Sea Jazz Festival where she met Brad Mehldau.
Mehldau heard Fleurine sing, and invited her to sit in with his Trio at the famous Village Vanguard in New York. The combination turned out to be a great success, and the idea for a tour together was born.
Close enough for love
In the meantime Fleurine’s debut Album “Meant to be!” had sold so well that she got an offer to record for EmArcy/ Universal. Fleurine and Brad Mehldau went into the studio in New York, and recorded the fresh material they had just toured in Europe. The Album is a duo-collaboration, for which Brad Mehldau wrote exquisite string-arrangements on a couple of tracks. (a “primeur!”)
Fleurine chose the material for the album, continuing to create new vocal standards by writing lyrics to beautiful compositions of Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau, composing a song of her own, and interpreting contemporary songs by Jimi Hendrix and Supertramp as well as three classic composers, Michel Legrand, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Johnny Mandel. Fleurine’s duo album with Brad Mehldau is entitled “Close Enough for Love”, released by EmArcy/ Universal (157 548-2).
Fleurine and Mehldau subsequently toured the world, playing in Paris, London , Berlin, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Prague, Utrecht, Los Angeles, New York, Montreux, The Hague, Sao Paulo (Brazil) , Buenos Aires (Argentina) with great success.(see reviews)
Fleurine’s debut Album, “Meant to be!”, has been re-released by Universal, and is available in many new countries under catalogue number EmArcy/Universal 159 085-2.
For her third release, “Fire”, Fleurine collaborated with producer Robert Sadin, who produced Herbie Hancock’s Grammy winning “Gershwin’s World” with Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell, and Wayne Shorter’s latest release “Alegria”. Sadin has also conducted, arranged and produced for a wide range of leading artists, including Kathleen Battle, Wynton Marsalis, Milton Nascimento, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the New York Philharmonic. Fleurine was thrilled to work with Sadin and their musical chemistry brought forth an exceptional album.
Fleurine continued to create her own unique niche in the world of jazz, this time arranging famous pop hits by Peter Frampton, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Drake, Paul Simon and The Pretenders in a jazz context, while at the same time reinterpreting a Gabriel Fauré’s classic sung in French, showcasing that jazz has no limits. Her great love for Brazilian grooves and language, always present on all of Fleurine’s albums is featured on the title track “Fire”, as well as on two brand new Brazilian originals and one classic Jobim.
The album features top players from two continents; New York’s finest -drummer Jeff Ballard, saxophonist Seamus Blake, accordionist Gil Goldstein, pianist Brad Mehldau and guitarist Peter Bernstein, and from Europe, Fleurine’s treasured band-members of 10 years: Holland’s premier guitarist Jesse van Ruller and Dutch bass ace Johan Plomp.
“San Francisco” is Fleurine’s ode to 3 outstanding Brazilian songwriters who happen to have their first names in common: Francisco “Chico” Buarque de Hollanda, Francis Hime, and Francisco “Chico” Pinheiro.
The inspiration for “San Francisco” was sparked by Fleurine’s admiration for Chico Buarque and another one of her favorites, the great composer /pianist Francis Hime, who frequently collaborated with Buarque.
It was also ignited by Fleurine’s more recent discovery, a super talented guitarist and composer of my generation who she is certain we will hear more of in the future: Chico Pinheiro. It features songs by all 3 Francisco’s with Portuguese lyrics and their English translations by Fleurine. And also a famous Jobim composition added as a cherry on the cake Fleurine adapted: Zingaro/ “Memories in Black and white” The top-notch international band features Pinheiro ( Brazil) and Freddie Bryant on guitar, Chris Potter on alto flute and tenor,Brad Mehldau on piano , Doug Weiss on bass,(US) Gilad ( Isreal) on percussion.
For her brand new release “Brazilian Dream” , Fleurine composed all the music on guitar and found herself a dream band made up out of up and coming , and some well established Brazilian musicians on the New York Jazz scene, some of whom she has collaborated with for many years like Vitor Goncalves on piano and accordion, Chico Pinheiro on electric guitar, Eduardo Belo on bass, Ian Faquini on acoustic guitar and Rogerio Boccato on percussion a.k.a. Boys from Brazil. Some familiar American boys were added to the mix, Chris Potter on Flutes and Saxes and Brad Mehldau on Fender Rhodes and piano to complete the dream.
“Brazilian Dream “showcases 8 brand new contemporary tunes based on deeply Brazilian grooves like bossa, baiao, partido alto, and samba and infused with plenty of Jazz. “Brazilian Dream” also boasts beautiful horn and string arrangements by Rafael Piccolotto de Lima.