Back to his roots
Until two years ago, few people knew that pianist and composer Bill Beach was also a singer. Although he began his jazz career as a singing pianist in 1974, Beach soon found the market more hospitable to a straight-ahead piano player. And when he started working with drummer Ron Steen in 1984, piano became his sole focus.
That attention to the keyboard has paid off: Beach is one of the city's top jazz pianists. But on his debut CD, "Letting Go," Beach returns to his roots with five vocal tunes. What's more, they're all in beautifully articulated Portuguese.
While he was working with a singer who specializes in Brazilian music, Beach began learning the language of Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. With a vocal range similar to Gilberto and a program of continual listening and classes, the process of mastering Brazilian standards, including "Sorriu para Mim," proved easy. His light voice, mixed below the piano, bass (Dave Captein) and drums (Reinhardt Melz), give these tunes a wistful, classic Brazilian sound.
Five Beach originals and five pop and jazz standards demonstrate his keyboard skills. Legato lines flow effortlessly, and lush chord voicings never obscure his clean touch and rhythmic dexterity. Beach's strength as an ensemble player comes through in the tight, interactive trio sound.
This CD originated because Beach wanted to record some music for his late sister, Alice, to listen to during her last days. The waltz he wrote for her memorial service, "Alice Annette," started him composing again, tunes such as the pensive "Dreams Deferred" and the brightly swinging "Oakville Road" followed. The only odd choice is the inclusion of "People," a tune that can't be redeemed even by excellent musicianship.
CD Rating: A
- LYNN DARROCH
Friday, January 28, 2005
Bill Beach CD solid
Letting Go, Bill Beach, piano,vocals. Over many years of
playing, Bill Beach has established himself as one of Portland¹s most admired jazz piano players. To my knowledge, this is Beach¹s initial CD under his own name, and it is a winner on several accounts. First of all, we are treated to five BB originals including the sprightly, swinging Oakville Road and a wistful waltz, Alice Annette, named for Beach¹s late sister who passed away earlier this year. The surprise of the CD is Beach¹s inclusion of some half dozen bossa compositions, mostly from the great Antonio Carlos Jobim. And for a huge bonus, try Bill Beach, singer, on these lovely Brazilian classics. Beach displays a warm and gentle vocal approach to these songs, much like Jobim himself. And to my ear, his Portuguese is flawlessly delivered. His choice of standards includes I Hear A Rhapsody, People and the rarely heard Where Is Love. With Portland aces Dave Captein, bass and Reinhardt Melz, drums, Bill Beach lives up to the consistency he¹s shown as one of our most creative and swinging piano cats. Add the new dimension of some splendid vocals, and you have a recording sure to lift your spirit and put some sunshine in your day. for more info: 503-234-5014 or billbeach.com.
Self-produced, 2004; Playing Time: 60:53, ****.
- George Fendel
Jazz Society of Oregon
Jazzscene Magazine, January 2005
Tasteful pianist in tuneful settings embelished with his laid-back vocals on some bossa nova tunes
Bill Beach, piano & vocals - Letting Go (with Dave Captein, bass; Reinhardt Melz, drums) - no # [www.billbeach.com]
One of many artist-released jazz CDs that should be getting more exposure but probably isn't. Beach has a nice relaxed keyboard style and a pleasant voice on the vocal tracks. He leans toward a bossa nova stance in many of the tracks, and his vocals on such as Jobim's Water to Drink are well-suited to his mild and unforced singing style. I was reminded of Tania Maria's livePlier treatment of this tune, but not disappointed. The strictly instrumental Sudden Samba is a kick, with some interesting developments during its nearly seven-minute length.
The title and opening tune begins with a nice melody expressed in fifths. Jobim and Gilberto are among the bossa nova sources in the tunes. Mention should be made of the extremely clean and impactful sonics on this disc - as good as some SACDs I've been reviewing lately.
Tunes: Letting Go, Oakville Road, Vivo Sonhando, Water to Drink, People, Sudden Samba, Nancy Maria, Dreams Deferred, She Smiled at Me, Alice Annette, I Hear a Rhapsody, Lamento, Where is Love?, Only Trust Your Heart, So Danco Samba. [www.billbeach.com]
- John Henry
from Audiophile Audition, June 2005
Letting Go, Bill Beach, piano.
Beach is a favorite on the Portland circuit, and this disc will do nothing but further his reputation. The songs are a pleasing mix of original compositions and Jobim bossas, along with scattered others. Mostly, though, the trio disc, featuring bassist Dave Captein and drummer Reinhardt Melz is cohesive in its approach and execution. The three musicians work together flawlessly. Melz is perfectly suited to his Latin rhythm approach, as on the propelling "Oakville Road," where he lays down polyrhythms to complement Beach's fresh and exact comping and Captein's agile bass playing. And guess what, Beach is a pretty darned good singer too. He tackles Jobim tunes in their native Portuguese and does a fine job, doing them in a sort of talking sing-song, much like Joao Gilberto, and only slightly less smoothly than a native speaker. The album also features songs that are a tribute to his late sister, Alice. The waltz, "Alice Annette" is a lovely musical memory of her. The only song that doesn't quite mesh is "People," which, even with chord alterations, can't shake the stigma of Streisand's overwrought delivery from decades back. Overall, though, this disc deserves to be in every local jazz fan's collection. Bill Beach, 2004; Playing Time: 59:33, ****.
- Kyle O’Brien:
Veteran Portland pianist Beach has always done his own
thing, and that’s a good thing. His versatility and his originality have led him to a long recording and performing career, and it continues with this ambitious and ultimately pleasing project — all original tunes with Brazilian beats, written and sung in Portuguese by the pianist. Beach’s rhythmic nature comes alive in these tropical tunes, and his supple voice fits well with the fluid Portuguese delivery. Beach made every attempt to get the language correct, even consulting Brazilian tutors for pronunciation. Not that he sounds like a native, but for a Northwester to sing lyrics he wrote in a foreign language, this is impressive. And the music soothes like a Bahia breeze. These aren’t just bossas; Beach utilizes the many musical forms of South America, including Spanish andfolk music. While this isn’t Beach’s first venture into Brazilian mu- sic, it is his most complete, and his visits to Brazil have certainly paid off. With Dave Captein, Reinhardt Melz, and Gary Hobbs, Beach has assembled a fine band to complete his Brazilian vision.
2010, Axial Records, 52:20.
Jazzscene Magazine, May 2010
Brasil Beat, Bill Beach, piano, vocals, composer, lyricist.
Okay, it’s one thing to sing nice Brazilian tunes. Many
fine American singers have done so ever since the ‘60s bossa nova craze. But it’s a totally different ballgame when Portland, Oregon’s Bill Beach writes Portuguese lyrics to his own well- constructed melodies. What’s more, Bill sings in a very subtle,unblemished and sincere manner. And, of course, he’s accompanying himself on the piano. Do you have any idea just what a challenge this must have been for one whose native language is a zillion miles distant from Portuguese? Well, Beach pulls it all off with great taste. Joined by fellow Portlanders Dave Captein, Reinhardt Melz and, on selected tunes, Gary Hobbs, Beach has crafted tunes that are imaginative, fresh and quite captivating. As if all this wasn’t amazing enough, the English translations to his lyrics are, for the most part, literate and sometimes quite touching. For quite a few years now, Beach has been one of our city’s consistent treasures in its jazz piano cadre. With this album, we hear just where his Brazilian muse has taken him. Very highly recommended.
Axial Records, 2010, 52:49.
Jazz Scene Magazine May, 2011
Bill Beach sings sweet Portuguese
Lucky for us, Bill Beach rose from the dead Benson Hotel’s basement and went to Brazil.
This spring the pianist released his energetic Brasil Beat (yes, Brazilians spell it that way) on his label, Axial Records. Six of the 12 tracks feature Beach’s breathy baritone-bass shaping original Portuguese lyrics. Cross-checked with Portuguese linguists, the lyrics are precisely articulated and beautifully phrased. Beach is a stickler for details and authenticity, as relaxed as his vocals sound.
The music, his originals as well, is painted with the bright colors and influences of mid-century Brazilians Antonia Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. (Beach’s voice and soft singing style are quite similar to Gilberto’s.) Don’t forget Carlos Lyra, Edu Lobo, Luis Eca, Sergio Mendes, Joao Donato and Milton Nascimento: Beach learned from all of them.
Pieces range from the upbeat “Aceitacao e Gratidao,” (“Acceptance and Gratitude”), which Portland singer Becky Kilgore recently incorporated into her repertoire, to the playfully alliterative “Minha Maluquinha” (“My Little Lunatic”). And then there’s “Os Sonhos do Estio” (“The Dreams of Summer”) that will transport you to the beach, in the prone position. Read the lyrics in Portuguese and in English.
The six pieces without lyrics, including “Mister Mersereau,” “Brasil Beat,” “Mary Louise,” “Hobbs,” “Samba das Velas” (“Samba of the Sails”) and “Tsuyo” are as high-energy as those cuts with Beach’s seductive, light-stepping singing.
You can play this CD thousands of times, clean the house with its tunes behind you, shove it into the car’s CD player and cross the country with it, sprawl on the couch with it, and never overdose. Each tune is melodic and captures the irresistibly danceable latin beat.
Speaking of the rhythm, Dave Captein plays bass, Reinhardt Meltz is on drums, and Vancouver’s Gary Hobbs performs magic on two cajons (common in flamenco music), a snare and a hi-hat. Beach’s piece, “Hobbs,” is designed for Hobbs to shine on, and that he does.
A longtime Oregon jazz pianist by way of small-town Corvallis, Beach has been recording Brazilian music for several years and singing forever (his mother was a piano teacher). His vocals took a vacation as his piano chops intensified in the mid-’80s. He started crooning again in 2002 and went public with his Brazilian bug in 2004 when he recorded several interpretations of Brazilian classics on his CD, Letting Go.
Beach captures the lyricism of influential pianists Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner, even under the bossa nova overlay. He and his Brazil-centric music are so easy to like.
by Angela Allen
Oregon Music News, May 31, 2010:
Audiophile Audition Buzios review
Bill Beach – Búzios – Axial Records – AXIAL 4003, 49:33 *****:
Búzios is high class to say the least and a joy to hear.
Bill Beach is a Portland, Oregon-based musician as well as the other listed musicians accompanying him on his album. Bill Beach began playing piano at the age of seven. His early influences were Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans in jazz. This also included Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sergio Mendez. Earlier this decade Bill started studying bossa nova and learning of the styles of João Gilberto, Vinicius De Moraes, Carlos Lyra and João Donato and the later MPB styles of Milton Nasciemento and others. During Bill’s jazz career in his early 20s he played with Mark Murphy, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Eddie Harris, Nat Adderley, Jimmy Cobb and Charlie Rouse. Beach has played in clubs in Amsterdam, Japan, and various European ports. He started writing Brazilian-style music and lyrics in Portuguese in 2007. He has now released three albums devoted to bossa nova standards and instrumentals he has composed. In order, they are Letting Go, Brasil Beat, and this newest release Búzios. Bill Beach plays at various venues in Portland, Oregon (www.billbeach.com).
Búzios is a coastal area located in Brazil 150 miles NE of Rio de Janeiro. It came to fame many years ago when visited by Brigitte Bardot and her lover mid-last century when it was a fishing village. It became a vacation resort of much popularity with its quaint scene and beautiful beaches, and was visited by Bill Beach and his time there apparently became an inspiration for his music and this album.
Búzios contains original compositions and lyrics by Beach in the Brazilian form of Latin bossa nova - sambas and rhythms characteristic of the mid-century music brought to the United States last century. There is a certain wonderful appeal of this style of music that attracts me with the lyrics of the Portuguese dialect sound on vocals that is exotic and delightful to hear. It refreshes and soothes the soul. Beach has captured this in his compositions and especially his vocal and piano playing.
“Búzios” starts the album and paints a tonal kaleidoscope of the scene of this exotic place. I hear the slow intro like a brief view of the beach with soft waves moving and breaking on the shore and suddenly you are in the midst of a bustling resort area with that feel of excitement. A great start to the album.
Next my favorite tune, “Tudo É Relativo (Everything is Relative). It opens with Bill’s piano intro. In comes Becky Kilgore with her soft beautiful voice singing in Portuguese soon to be joined in duet by Bill. It is that adorable duet by soft male and female voicing so characteristic of the Brazilian music.
The album is a confection of the different bossa and samba rhythm beats and sounds. It is like stepping into an exotic small club atmosphere taking you to Brazil. Bill’s playing is solid with a soft touch on the piano at times yet strength appears in the faster exciting songs. His left hand chording while his right hand plays melody lines very much compliment and showcase his abilities. The changes from tune to tune are skillfully arranged and vary to keep it interesting.
A word about the rest of the musicians. Bill has selected the best I have heard in the Portland area. Dave Captein keeps great time and has great soloing technique. The drummers Bill selected are highly skilled and lend what is so much apart of this style of music.
Búzios is high class to say the least and a joy to hear. Bill has included the lyrics of the vocals in Portuguese and English in his liner notes. I would have liked to have seen some of his thoughts put in about this production but I am sure you will think he has spoken volumes in his playing and singing. The sound recording is excellent.
(Bill Beach – piano and vocals; Rebecca Kilgore – vocal (track 2); Dave Captein – bass; drums/percussion; Charlie Doggett – track 2, 5, 6; Reinhardt Melz – track 1, 3, 8; Gary Hobbs – track 7, 10, 11: Ron Steen – track 4, 9, 12)
TrackList: Búzios; Tudo É Relativo (Everything is Relative); Nada De Lágrimas / Namida No Hate Ni (No Tears); Pete’s Piece; Pesadelos (Nightmares); Trem Para O Corcovado (Train to Corcovado); A Casa Da Ana (Ana’s House); Antes Da Separacão (Before Parting); Song for Ron; Neste Momento (In this Moment); Metade De Um Coração (Half a Heart); Bobo (The Fool)
-- Tim Taylor
Published on July 17, 2011
A wonderful and entertaining album
Búzios is a popular resort place, north of Rio de Janeiro. The peninsula's twenty beautiful beaches and famous night-life attract many visitors. Happy faces of relaxed people form part of the attraction. The sentiment pianist, singer and composer Bill Beach creates on his most recent album recalls the atmosphere of Búzios in a nice way.
From Corvallis, Oregon, Bill Beach studied with jazz giants like pianists Marian McPartland and Warren Bernhardt. During his career, that spans a quarter of a century, the pianist performed with saxophonists Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, trumpeter Nat Adderley, singer Mark Murphy and other legendary jazz soloists. Although his style sometimes echoes influences of pianist McCoy Tyner, it's clear that Bill picked up many other influences as well to shape them into his own style. In 2002 he dived into the world of Brazilian music and was influenced by artists like Carlos Lyra, Edu Lobo, Luiz Eça and João Donato. Bill studied Portuguese, performed with Brazilian musicians and started to write his own lyrics in Portuguese.
On Búzios Bill Beaches offers us a dozen of his own compositions among which there are 5 instrumentals. The album opens with its instrumental title track. It's a lovely piece of work on which the pianist shows his lyric and rhythmically interesting piano style. It's performed in an old fashioned trio format. The perfect opener; it sets you in the mood for the music that follows; music with sunny blue skies. On the following "Tudo É Relativo" the renowned vocalist Rebecca Kilgore was invited. The specialist of the American Songbook, singing in Portuguese for this occasion, perfectly knows how to add a natural flow to the song. "Nada de Lágrimas/Namida no Hate ni" is a bilingual song, that starts with Bill Beach singing in Japanese before switching over to Portuguese. With a large Japanese population in Brazil and a special love for bossa nova in Japan, the connection between the two countries is easily made. Bill Beach sings with a pleasant voice that finds shelter in his own piano playing. At moments it is fun to clearly notice that it's the pianist who's also singing; he does both things with the exact same sentiment! On all tracks, the bassist is Dave Captein, also from Oregon and with a solid history in jazz. He has been working with Beach for a couple of years already. The trio is completed by a variety of four drummers from the Portland jazz scene. The experienced drummers who switch duty are Ron Steen, Reinhardt Meltz, Gary Hobbs and Charlie Doggett. They all do a terrific job in laying down a jazzy rhythm with a Brazilian touch. The songs vary from friendly sambas to beautiful bossa novas. They're all performed with a warm dedication to Brazil and its musical culture. It makes Búzios a wonderful and entertaining album.
Review by Kees Schoof
Música Brasileira website, May, 2011
Buzios, Bill Beach, piano, vocals, composer.
Imagine writing numerous pieces of music in a style native to another country, and then writing the lyrics in the language of that country. Think about growing up in Corvallis, Oregon, and then at some phase of your life, you begin writing music that's very Brazilian, adding lyrics in Portuguese. Well, Portlander Beach has done exactly that. Twice! On this, his second recording of original music worthy of any well-crafted Jobim or Gilberto melody, Beach offers a dozen examples of his piano, vocals and his charming writing, all in a bossa/Brazilian bag. He surrounds himself with a talented troop of Portlanders in Dave Captein, bass, and, believe it or not, four scintillating Rose City drummers, albeit one to each selection: Charlie Doggett, Gary Hobbs, Reinhardt Melz and Ron Steen. To sweeten the deal, add Portland's premier singer, Rebecca Kilgore, who joins Beach on one outstanding cut. Not all the tunes are vocals, and instrumentally, Beach is playing his own compositions, very musical ones I might add, in a setting he obviously loves. One can only guess how many hundreds of hours Beach has invested in becoming a stirring interpreter of this very special music. What an accomplishment! And what a delicious new CD as well!
Axial Records, 2011; 49:3.0
- George Fendel
Jazz Times Buzios Review
Búzios is a collection of all originals by pianist/composer Bill Beach. The trio format of just piano, bass and drums allows the listener to appreciate Beach elegant piano harmonies and improvisations.
Besides being an accomplished composer, Beach is also a good singer. Beach sings in the sambas “Nada de Lagrimas”, and “Tudo é relativo” ( a duo with the beautiful voice of Rebecca Kilgore) and in the bossas “Pesadelos”, “Antes da separaçao” and “Neste Momento”. But is in the instrumental pieces where Bill Beach truly shines, showing his exquisite phrasing on piano.
Besides Beach piano playing, bassist Dave Captein is the other pleasant surprise on this album. Captein plays nice and well constructed solos on “Pete’s Piece”, “Trem para o Corcovado” , “A casa da Ana” and on the title track Buzios. The best piece of the release however is the energetic jazz/samba “Song for Ron”.
Musicians: Vocals - Bill Beach, Rebecca Kilgore, Piano - Bill Beach, Bass - Dave Captein, Drums - Ron Steen, Reinhardt Melz, Gary Hobbs, Charlie Doggett
Tracks: Búzios, Tudo é relativo, Nada de lagrimas, Pete’s Piece, Pesadelos, Trem para o Corcovado, A casa da Ana, Antes da separaçao, Song for Ron, Neste Momento, Metade de um coraçao, Bobo
By Wilbert Sostre
Jazz Times Magazine
July 28, 2011
Buzios, Bill Beach.
Beach was bitten by the Brazilian jazz bug nearly a decade ago, and the result has been a couple of infectiously good Brazilian-influenced jazz discs, including this latest from the Portland composer/arranger/pianist/vocalist. His slightly breathy delivery fits the bossa style well, and — when he's joined by fellow Portland vocalist Rebecca Kilgore on "Tudo a Relativo (Everything is Relative)" — the result is smooth sailing, with Kilgore's ebullient voice flowing with the Portuguese lyrics. Also joining Beach are bassist Dave Captein and drummers/percussionists Reinhardt Melz, Gary Hobbs, Charlie Doggett and Ron Steen. Beach has long been a welcome and unique voice in the Portland jazz world, and this disc of originals continues his contributions. While Beach's vocals are nice, his instrumentals are equally strong and focused. The title track warms up the listener with a Bahia breeze, while "Pete's Place" grooves with polyrhythms. Beach has obviously studied the Portuguese language, and it comes out in his mellifluous diction and lyrics that sound like they were written by a true Brazilian — no small feat. Of course, for those of us who don't speak the language, we have to be lulled by the lyrics as if they were another instrumental voice, which works well. Beach's piano takes center stage when the vocals are silent, and he proves once again that he is his own best accompanist. It's another successful voyage to Brazil from Beach, and the subsequent concerts should be a pleasure.
2011, Axial Records, 50 minutes.
- Kyle O'Brien
Bill Beach waxes wonderful on newest Brazilian-inspired CD
I love Bill Beach’s music.
Composer, arranger, singer, instrumentalist, he consistently exhibits lyrical piano-playing and produces harmonious compositions that gently invite in listeners.
Now with his third latin-style album, released this month (May, 2011) on his Axial label, “Buzios,” he gives further dimension to his poetic piano playing and sweet baritone-bass, surrendering to the influences of mid-century Brazilian bossa nova giants Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Beach’s voice, singing mostly Portuguese, comes close to Gilberto’s in tone and light-stepping rhythmic structure; his piano virtuosity is rooted in styles of expressive jazz keyboardists Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner.
The 50-minute CD is named for a dreamy Brazilian seaside village made famous by Bridget Bardot’s visits with her South American lover way back when. Beach visited Buzios and was intoxicated by the fishermen’s nets and scalloped beaches. The place certainly provided him with musical inspiration.
Beach’s 12 original tunes include five instrumentals (my favorite is “A Casa da Ana” or “Ana’s House”) that showcase the talents of four Portland-area veteran drummers — Reinhardt Meltz, Gary Hobbs, Charlie Doggett and Ron Steen. Add in the expertise of bassist Dave Captein, who has played with Beach for years, and you’re in for pure rhythmic pleasure.
There’s much to love about the vocals and upbeat Latin Bossa nova overlay. Beach sings with Portland’s Becky Kilgore on “Tuda E Relativo” (“Everything is Relative”), and their voices work together languorously yet precisely. In a linguistic twist, “Nada de Lagrimas” (“No Tears”) starts out in Japanese and ends in Portuguese. Beach’s ear for language is as attuned and as well articulated as his playing.
A longtime Oregon jazz pianist by way of small-town Corvallis, Beach has been recording Brazilian music for several years and singing since childhood (his mother was a piano teacher). His vocals were on hiatus as his piano chops took over in the mid-’80s Portland’s jazz scene. He started singing again in 2002 and went public with his Brazilian love-bug in 2004 when he recorded interpretations of Brazilian classics on his CD, “Letting Go.” His second latin-style CD, “Brasil Beat,” came out in 2010, so “Buzios” makes a triple.
One criticism: The CD prints the lyrics of the songs, but skips mentioning the instrumental cuts (except on the back of the album) so it’s a bit confusing to follow the CD. But that production value that does nothing to compromise the music.
by Angela Allen
Oregon Music News
May 6, 2011