It takes two to bossa

Yoni Rechter is teaming up with Brazilian singer Denise Reis in a series of concerts fusing local beats with the grooves of Rio.

denise reis 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
denise reis 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When veteran musician Yoni Rechter was asked by Shai Zeldman, the director of the upcoming Infiniti Music Events at the Zappa clubs in Tel Aviv and Herzliya, what kind of collaboration he’d like to pursue for the series, he didn’t hesitate.
“I told him I’ve always wanted to perform with a Brazilian singer,” said Rechter last week. For Rechter, it was one of the few musical combinations he hadn’t tried in his four decades as one of Israel’s top music makers, ranging from his days as a member of Kaveret and co-initiator of The Sixteenth Sheep to more recent work as an in-demand producer and solo artist.
Zeldman compiled a short list of options for Rechter, who then consulted with longtime friend, Brazilian-Israeli percussionist Joca Perpignan.
“Joca’s been back and forth on the Rio and Tel Aviv route for many years, and he knows everybody there. He recommended that I give Denise Reis a listen,” said Rechter. “I was taken with her immediately.”
Reis, an accomplished singer and guitarist, has been a staple on the Brazilian music scene for over 20 years, and is perhaps best known for her ability to make her voice sound uncannily like a trumpet.
“I learned to sing that way from my mother when I was 13,” Reis told The Jerusalem Post. “She told me to leave a hole in my lips and blow, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I listen carefully to trumpet players to match the sound and the timbre.”
While Reis’s vocal contortions may sound effortless, she said that it can be a very physically taxing endeavor to imitate a brass instrument. “It’s not so easy to do. You need to use a lot of power in the diaphragm and lips,” she said, adding that while she loves doing it, she doesn’t want to be known as a novelty act. “It’s only a peculiarity in my career as a singer and composer.”
RECHTER REALIZED that when he began listening to Reis’s CDs and watching her YouTube clips. Perpignan made the shidduch between the two, and they immediately began sharing music.
“Her music spoke to me. I sent her some of my music to see if it spoke to her, and little by little, we began connecting on the Internet,” said Rechter.
The result is going to be an evening of Israeli-Brazilian fusion, taking place on March 12 at the Zappa in Herzliya and March 13 at the Zappa in Tel Aviv. The show features Rechter and Reis performing their own and each other’s songs in Hebrew and Portuguese, like Rechter’s classic “Hayalda Hahi Yafa Bagan” (The Most Beautiful Girl in Gan). Perpignan will provide the link between the two with percussion that crosses the Israeli-Brazilian divide.
Other performances taking place as part of the Infiniti series include Avishai Cohen on Wednesday and Thursday at the Zappa Tel Aviv, and this past weekend’s Patricia Barber Quartet shows.
“It’s a great honor for me to participate of this project with Yoni,” said Reis. “I always wanted to visit Israel, and I hope the people enjoy my  songs. I’m even learning some words in Hebrew to sing a song in your language."
“It’s really a meeting of cultures. I don’t know her and will meet herfor the first time three days before our first show. It’s exciting,”added Rechter.
When asked why he initially answered the query about a collaborationwith the response of Brazilian music, Rechter didn’t hesitate with hisanswer.
“I really like the creativity and the beat of Brazilian music, as wellas the sophistication of it. At the same time, there’s something verywarm to it, it touches the heart,” he said.
“I think that when you probe a little, you’ll find that there are a lotof similarities between Brazilian music and the music we’re creatinghere in Israel.”
Those who attend one of the Rechter-Reis shows will be able to decide for themselves – if they can stop dancing.