Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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JOÃO, Maria

Portuguese experimental vocalist. She does more improvising and experimenting with sound than straight singing, though quite capable of that as well, including bits of everything on her albums. She began singing in 1982 at the Jazz School of the Hot Club of Lisbon, gaining international exposure at the Cascais International Jazz Festival '84 and winning first prize with her group at the International Jazz Competition in San Sebastian, Spain '85, her debut album Cem Caminhos '85 incl. versions of 'Take Five' and 'My Favorite Things', her most straightahead jazz album, followed by Conversa '86, both these albums on the Nabel label. Pianist Aki Takase heard her perform at the Leipzig Festival '86; they hit the European festival circuit leading to a three-week duet tour of Europe. Their first recording together was a live concert recorded at the Leverkusen Jazz Festival, Looking For Love '87; they formed a trio with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen '90 and did a four-week tour of Norway, and another live album, Alice '90; Sol '91 is a studio album with her Portuguese group, Cal Viva: all these are on Enja. She has also made two albums for Verve: Danças '94 and Fábula '96.