Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jorge Ben Jor, the late great Gal Costa — no one writes a tune like these Brazilian performers, plain and simple. There's some kind of musical magic in their lilting rhythms and melancholic melodies — and fast-forward to 2023, these are certainly traits shared by Orlando band Ella & the Bossa Beat. The father-daughter duo of Magrus and Ella Borges both hail from Brazil, but have made Florida their home for years. And they both have cred to spare: Ella is a music-studies graduate and her father Magrus has done time as a session player for the heat-seeking likes of Bebel Gilberto and Shakira.
Their latest album, In the Moment, is a lush and imaginatively produced album that's full of bright moments and musical ideas that take every song to the hilt. Not overdone but just right, it's a crucial leap forward from their previous effort, My Remedy.
In the Moment sounds like it came from one of the major studios, but it didn't. Like the band, it's a homegrown operation. Which is exciting because this marvelous act can be enjoyed within human reach. The music and vocals of In the Moment first take you by the ear and then quickly catch hold of your heart, as is customary with music touched by the spirit of Brazil.
The duo have created a sound that's joyously warm and at the same time pensive and vulnerable, particularly in "What Happened to Our Love" or the album's touching showpiece, "Dreamer."
In the Moment is the kind of record we could imagine Robert Glasper getting into, or the kind that Sting would kill to duet on. This is the deep-cut side of the Quiet Storm genre, romancin' music with depth and soul and a hint of Sade.
This is music that may very well cross over into the mainstream. Orlando Weekly spoke to the artists last week.
How did this album come together? Compared to the previous album, this is a big-league contender ...
That's a good question. It all started during the COVID season and we always wanted to polish and refine our sound. Ever since we started playing we had this vision of playing something bossa nova and lounge-y, which comes so natural to us. As the years went by it became singular, something classy yet contemporary. We have a home studio and our process was spending a lot of time together and playing the songs over and over again until they showed who we are and until we found that perfect crossover of jazz and pop.
That's the perfect set-up, a crossover between jazz and pop, and even more so. This album could fit among several radio-friendly formats.
We identify with so many different things. While living in Brazil and playing with people like Grace Jones, Bebel Gilberto and Shakira and other great people, along with what we listen to at home and as an artist it comes out of you naturally. We have all these different artists inside of us and so I think that comes out in the music we create.
We can definitely hear that, especially in the way the album is put together. It plays like a mixtape with dramatic cues, fluid intros and fades.
We work as a team and we were very focused on the order of the record and as you mentioned, the flow. We were listening to each song to see what sounds good right after the next, what sounds good to start and end with because each song tells a story. Each song has its own little flavor. It was about finding which ingredients go best before and after. This record was played "live" but very edited and polished.
It's a fine line, it's not a throwback but it's timeless. Like "Dreamer" ...
We wrote the arrangement and sent it to the cellist to do what they wanted. The lyrics were about how we're dreamers, but how important it is to take risks. The arrangement reflects that.
"What Happened to Our Love" has a heavy emotional impact, and that classic reverb-y Fender Rhodes piano sound.
This is the second song we created during the pandemic. There was so much happening at that time and so many things we wanted to say. Like, "What happened to our love?," which is a never-ending question when it comes to society and as people. Message-wise it's exactly what it says with affection and rejection; we need to look deeper into ourselves as a society and generationally.
Would you credit the quality of In the Moment to the sudden deluge of free time granted during the pandemic?
Oh yes, it went through so many versions, the record did. The first version was a dance version, but as we said, we were trying to polish our sound and find our true voice and style.