Speaking Portugese with a French Accent

Singer Noel Ross and saxophonist Dave Short have teamed up with pianist/arranger John Gonsalves to create “Brazilectro,” a jazz band that performs bossa nova music from Brazil. Noel, with roots in New Orleans, is fluent in French, and sings lyrics in Portuguese and English in this band.


Why are you drawn to Brazilian bossa nova music?

To begin with, the Portuguese language is so smooth and sensual that once you try it out you are hooked on it. The bossa nova lyrics are deep and meaningful, and the songs convey a range of emotions from elation to despair. I especially like the songs about the festival of Carnival, which is a time when everyone, rich or poor, gets into the spirit of living for today.

I understand that you have New Orleans roots. It seems that Carnival would be something familiar to you. Sort of like Mardi Gras.

Exactly like Mardi Gras. There is a lyric in the song Felicidade that translates to “Happiness is as fleeting as a feather floating in the wind, but sadness is forever.” The philosophy at Carnival is to live life fully today, because life is too short.

What are some of your favorite bossa nova songs?

Well, I like a lot of them, but Agua de Beber (Water to Drink) is especially meaningful to me. It is about losing love and being afraid to love again. O Morro, on the other hand, is about the promise of future happiness. Some of the songs are extremely sad, but they are balanced by incredibly joyous songs too.

You have a extremely diverse musical background. What type of music do you enjoy performing the most?

Mainly I just focus on having a lot of fun with whatever type of music that I happen to be doing. I have to say, however, that the Cole Porter concert that we did a few years ago was really the most fun so far. When I get into something new and different, like this bossa nova music, I really dive into it. I’m living, eating, drinking and dreaming in Portuguese now. My Portuguese coach tells me that I speak the language with a French accent. That’s going to have to change fast! This music may be the most challenging material that I have ever attempted. The lyrics are sometimes fast and complex, and yet the music still has to sound relaxed and spontaneous. You and I are very fortunate to have such excellent musicians in this band. Bernie Baker, Bruce Calin, Dwayne Corbin, John Gonsalves, and Devin Penner all have an innate understanding of this music and how it should sound, so working with them is such a tremendous pleasure. I’m having a blast!

What: Brazilectro for Dave Short’s Jazz At Old City Hall

Where: Old City Hall, 1313 Market Street, Redding

When: Sunday Nov. 1, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $10 (Students are free) available at Bernie’s Guitar, 3086 Bechelli Lane, Redding

daveshort-best1Dave Short M.D. is a Redding family physician. He has been active in the jazz scene since moving back home to Redding in 1980. He loves to play the tenor sax, and has recorded three albums with the band Sax Therapy. His favorite project is “Dave Short’s Jazz at Old City Hall,” a monthly concert series that features the finest north state jazz musicians. to learn more about Dave Short’s Jazz at Old City Hall, visit daveshortjazz.com

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