In the wake of her celebrated performances in 2009 and 2010 at Feinstein’s, the exclusive supper jazz club in the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan, Brazilian singer Patty Ascher is now poised on the brink of a big breakout in the States with the release of Bossa, Jazz ‘n’ Samba, her debut on Zoho Music.
Whether singing in English or her native Portuguese, Ascher brings an alluring quality to bear on every evocative tune. From achingly beautiful interpretations of songs by the likes of Michel Legrand and Burt Bacharach (the latter whom she paid tribute to on 2007’s acclaimed Bacharach Bossa Club) to heartfelt renditions of her own affecting bossa nova and R&B flavored originals, Patty delivers with the kind of classy sophistication that belies her young age.
Born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Ascher grew up in a musical household. Her father Neno was part of a very successful Brazilian band from the 70s called Os Incríveis (The Incredibles). “My father is a musician, his brother is a very popular arranger and maestro in Brazil and all my cousins play an instrument,” she says. As a singer, she cites Brazilian divas Leny Andrade and Gal Costa along with American jazz divas Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington as important influences. “What they all have in common,” says Ascher, “is personality. When you hear them you do know who is singing.”
She also lists Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra and Al Jarreau as among her favorite male voices, though her earliest vocal influence may have come from a 1930s icon. “The first song I remember in my life was ‘Ain't Mishbehavin’’ with Fats Waller singing,” she recalls. “I was only three years old and I loved that song. I’d wake up in the morning hearing Fats, and that always stuck with me. Then I discovered Cab Calloway’s ‘Minnie the Moochie’ from a cartoon and I loved that as well. My father then introduced me to Louis Armstrong and I started to listen all the time to his versions of ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me,’ ‘High Society’ and ‘St. James Infirmary.’ I used to love that man singing just to me in my room while I was eating or taking a bath, even when I was sleeping.”
Ascher’s musical horizons eventually expanded to include the Beatles, American Soul and jazz. During her college years while studying for a bachelor's degree in Literature at the University of São Paulo, she began immersing herself in Brazilian music while harboring a dream of becoming a professional singer. She recalls her earliest onstage experiences. “My first gig was in a beautiful theater in São Paulo. It was a benefit concert for the Jewish Community Center. The second one I did was in Rio de Janeiro at Bar Do Tom, a bossa nova temple...a very fancy night club in Rio.”
In 2006, after earning a masters degree at age 22 she encountered bossa nova pioneer Roberto Menescal, who invited her to record her first CD, singing Burt Bacharach songs in bossa nova style. “Meeting him was a sign to me,” she says. “It was a chance to go on seriously with a career, working with a great producer and mentor. We released our project one year after our first meeting and it was a dream project. It was an incredible opportunity to sing samba and jazz together. They have a lot in common. Both were born in the ‘new continent’ at the same time from the same mother Africa.”
On her latest recording, Bossa, Jazz ‘n’ Samba, Ascher’s gorgeous voice is surrounded by lush orchestrations from such respected veteran MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) artists and composer-arrangers as Dori Caymmi, Gilson Peranzetta, Amilson Godoy and Cristovao Bastos. This spirited cross-cultural project – recorded at the famous Gravodisc studios in Sao Paolo, Brazil – should put Patty Ascher over the top in 2011.