Frances Livings’ Ipanema Lounge ~ Multi-Lingual Latin Jazz & Pop


Ipanema Lounge Project

I originally founded the “Ipanema Lounge Project’ as a Latin jazz collaboration with the composer, arranger and guitarist Greg Porée in 2012. My intention was to delve into a musical genre that was different from the style of my musical poetry and songwriting that may remind you of artists like Carole King or Sting. I also wanted to perform a repertoire that was on the one hand a lot more Latin groove-oriented and that, on the other hand, provided the possibility of a good blend of voice and guitar.

From Rio to Paris*

I chose classic Brazilian jazz standards: mostly Antonio Carlos Jobim songs and other well-known Bossa nova songs. The goal was sophisticated interpretations of tunes like ‘Corcovado’ or ‘Dindi’ that perfectly captured the mood of the 1960’s, but, on the same note, were infused with an easy-going, contemplative, contemporary and seductive Lounge-jazz feeling. In 2012, in my label Moontraxx we recorded three tracks, Dindi, Corcovado and One Note Samba, that I released as an EP titled Songs of Antônio Carlos Jobim by Ipanema Lounge Project.

I recorded the songs with English lyrics, which are just as well-known as in Portuguese, Jobims native language in which he penned most of his songs. Especially Brazilian Portuguese was a language I had never consciously listened to. But these versions, often interpreted and recorded by Jobim himself, were an inspiration to expand the repertoire to other languages as well. As a lover of foreign language jazz and a musically curious person, I musically then started travelling from Rio to Paris, then to Mexico, Barcelona and later to Germany. I already had some favourite French songs that I enjoyed listening to; Jardin d’Hiver was one of the first I learnt. It also became the first track on the record. Then came some Spanish. I learnt Besame Mucho and Sway (the second verse is in Spanish), then some Portuguese, which is for me definitely the most challenging. I later integrated some German songs as well.

*From Paris to Rio is the title of an album by the American jazz singer Karrin Allyson

An International Repertoire

The songs now range from dramatic, emotional and melancholic ballads, to fun and groovy up-tempo songs like Sway, Mas Que Nada and Aganjú, whose infectious Tango, Samba and Salsa rhythms definitely make you want to dance! In the meantime, I have also added some of my own music, like the dramatic song Come Closer.  Other songs are from famous international writers like Leonard Cohen, Michael Franks, Antoñio Carlos Jobim, Gian Marco Zignago just to name a few and have been interpreted by singers such as Natalie Cole, Laura Fygi, Bebel Gilberto and Gloria Estefan.

From a Project to an Album and Many Live Performances

During that time it also became apparent that this wasn’t really a collaboration or a band project but that it was really my undertaking. So I decided that the original name, Ipanema Lounge Project, would become the title of my next album, abbreviated to Ipanema Lounge. I added my name and started to bill my live shows Frances Livings’ Ipanema Lounge, alluding to the name of the album and this very concept of a blend of multi-lingual jazz and pop tunes.

Greg Porée is still a core member. As a guitarist and musical director he delivers the harmonious guitar tones, some of the arrangements and creative grooves. He writes the charts and was also the co-producer of the new album, Ipanema Lounge. His credits range from Stevie Wonder to Randy Crawford, his style-diversity from funk to classical. He was a creative founding-father of his son’s band Ozomatli and for nine years the lead guitarist on the hit TV show Dancing with the Stars.

Additionally, not only the recordings but my live performances are made special by an eclectic mix of professional musicians and their diverse musical styles. Ever imagined infectious grooves and a creative fusion-approach with soul and pop influences, seem to speak to both jazz enthusiasts and those who never considered themselves jazz fans. The rhythm section from Brazil are incredible talents – whether on upright or electric bass (Joe Ayoub or Isaias Elpes) or on percussion (Sandro Feliciano or David Leach), they guarantee colourful grooves and nuances. When performing as a quintet, I include a funky and creative keyboarder (Darrell Diaz or Zachary Provost) and sometimes, to top off the melancholic flair, a bandoneon or accordion player or violinist.

Depending on the venue, its size and acoustics, I perform in different constellations: As a duo at intimate settings like at The Little Door, as a trio (voice, Spanish guitar and upright bass), as a quintet or even a sextet (adding keyboards, percussion and bandoneón). With an ever growing repertoire, we have performed at many venues in and around Los Angeles for a couple of years now. At the Miles Memorial Playhouse and the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica, LACMA, Molly Malone’s, Genghis Cohen, Pip’s on La Brea, at RedWhite+Bluezz and Mambo’s in Pasadena, The Little Door and Le Petit Paris as well as at corporate and private events.

Here is the CD “Ipanema Lounge” released in September 2016

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