Portugal's Grande Dame of Vocal Acrobacy
It is difficult to find a category for Portuguese singer Maria Joao as with each of her projects she enters new artistic territories. Avantgarde, modern jazz, Latinamerican music, Portuguese folclore - Maria Joao plays with the most different genres and embraces them through her personal style of interpretation. She presents her songs as mini dramas full of grace and explosive passion, accompanied by dramatic body language, gestures and dancing steps. The infinite range of her voice oscillates between all colours and intensities, jubilating and whispering in fascinating poignancy.
For more than 25 years she has been regularly working together with pianist Mario Laginha, together they have released dozens of CDs and given hundreds of concerts all over the world. Clearly influenced by jazz Joao and Mario's art incorporates influences from other musical universes (Portuguese popular music, Brazilian, African, classical). The music they play is set by a mixture of formal discipline, creativity, intuition, complicity and technical competence. After their last studio album "Chocolate" (2008) they celebrate the 25th anniversary of their musical partnership with the new project "Iridescente" in the unusual setting of voice, piano, accordion, harp and percussion. Maria Joao wrote all the lyrics and, for the first time, extended her creative capacity to composition - she is the author of the theme "Iridescente", - all the other themes and arrangements are by Mario Laginha.
Apart from her work with Mario Laginha, Maria Joao has shared the stage with numerous great Portuguese and international (jazz) names such as e.g. Antonio Pinho Vargas, Carlos Bica, Gilberto Gil, Joe Zawinul, Laureen Newton, Miroslav Vitous, Charlie Mariano, Aki Takase, Niels Henning. With her new project "Ogre"she has recently started to explore the relation between jazz, pop and electronic sonorities.
"The electrifying stage presence of Maria Joao fascinated the audience from the first to the last minute. The phenomenous range of her voice from very deep to very high and her overwhelming improvisational skill make the big difference. She switches from the oriental sound of an arab singer to the voice of an old Candomble priest - a simply breathtaking performance".
Rolling Stone Brasil, 2012