2023 is running and Luciano Leães - named "The Brazilian Professor" by one of the most important blues magazines of the world: the Blues Matters! MAgazine - is getting ready to release his new single "Fessta Brasilis" at WWOZ radio and at Jazz Fest kick off night at the traditional Maple Leaf bar in New Orleans in april.
This new work consolidates Leães' international career and builds a bridge between his past and his present through his background as a Brazilian / South American musician and his succesful career as a R&B, Jazz and Soul piano player. The name is a tribute to Professor Longhair (Fess) and the music roots as a south brazilian.
Proving that music is a universal language that connects people, Leães brought together a heavyweight team to express the aggregating power of art. "I don't know where this new journey will take me, but I will follow my artistic instinct knowing that the search for our musical truth is a road that always pays off."
In April, the acclaimed musician unveiled his latest single, titled "FESSTA BRASILIS," which boasts an impressive lineup of musicians. This captivating composition serves as a testament to the remarkable power of collaboration and the universal language of music. It not only pays homage to the rich musical traditions of New Orleans and Brazil but also highlights the extraordinary talents of a distinguished ensemble.
"FESSta Brasilis" marks the first release from Leães's upcoming album, scheduled for release on 2024. The album will feature a collection of original compositions, each intricately infused with Leães's signature fusion of New Orleans piano, R&B, jazz, and enchanting Brazilian and South American rhythms. Currently captivating audiences throughout Brazil and South America with live performances, Leães is also preparing to announce an exciting array of tour dates spanning North America and Europe.
This vibrant and dynamic track showcases Leães's virtuosic piano skills, masterfully supported by a tight-knit rhythm section that seamlessly merges elements of R&B, jazz, Maracatu, Maxixe, and more. Produced by Leães himself alongside New Orleans piano virtuoso Tom Worrell, the recording sessions took place at Estudio do Arco in Porto Alegre, Brazil, as well as at Rhythm Shack Studios in New Orleans, under the expert guidance of Leães and Jake Eckert.
The official global debut of "FESSta Brasilis" took place at the renowned Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans, followed by an exclusive premiere on the world-famous WWOZ radio. This vibrant composition, with its diverse blend of R&B, jazz, Maracatu, Maxixe, and more, exemplifies Leães's exceptional piano prowess and is a testament to his artistic vision. Notably, the recording sessions were enhanced by the participation of esteemed musicians from both New Orleans and Brazil, including the talented sousaphone player Kirk Joseph, guitarist John Fohl, drummer Lionel Batiste Jr., and percussionist Tuti Rodrigues.
ABOUT LUCIANO LEÃES
In his early years, Leães grew up immersed in the sounds of blues and jazz records from his parents' collection. From a young age, he began to keenly listen to the tunes emanating from the speakers. Additionally, his pianist uncles infused family gatherings with diverse rhythms and melodies, particularly at the residence of his grandparents Odila and Maneco. They were ardent collectors of tango albums and enthusiasts of various regional styles, frequently transforming their living room into a dance floor. The Leães family, inherently musical, whether as avid listeners or amateur musicians, established a profound connection between Luciano's adolescence and adulthood.
Residing in Porto Alegre, RS, in the deep south of Brazil, near Argentina and Uruguay, at the tender age of 20, the budding pianist found himself sharing the stage with luminaries such as Carey Bell, Hubert Sumlin, and John Primer. Over the years, he embarked on tours with Bob Stroger, Annika Chambers, Wee Willie Walker, Tia Carroll, Earl Thomas, among others. At 22, Luciano gained extensive knowledge by recording an album produced by his B3 Hammond mentor, the American musician Ron Levy (BB King, Albert King, etc).
In 2013, he received an invitation from Elton John's production team to open the artist's show in Porto Alegre, at Zequinha Stadium, performing in front of over 20,000 people.
Today, Luciano Leães stands as one of the foremost and most active musicians associated with R&B and New Orleans Piano in Brazil, and quite possibly in Latin America. According to Bob Lohr, pianist for guitarist Chuck Berry for over a decade, "Luciano is one of these amazing artists who play blues, R&B, and New Orleans-style keyboards with exceptional expertise and soul. After hearing him, you’ll be compelled to do one of two things: (1) quit or (2) practice tirelessly to catch up. He's undoubtedly one of the most exceptional figures on the scene."
In late 2022, Leães unveiled his single "Fessta Brasilis," marking a fusion of his existing style with elements of Brazilian and South American music. The global release took place on WWOZ with a live interview on Missy Bowen's New Orleans Music Show, followed by a performance at a sold-out Maple Leaf Back Bar Piano Sessions. The single featured Leães's ensemble and welcomed distinguished New Orleans musicians, including John Fohl, Kirk Joseph, and Lionel Batiste Jr.
By August 2022, Leães had already released his album "Live at Pianistico" in a packed Santa Casa theater. British journalist and photographer Adam Kennedy characterized the album in his article in Blues Matters magazine as "not only one of the rare live albums released during the Covid-19 era but also one of the most original concert recordings of recent times."
While Leães is celebrated as one of Brazil's top pianists, he has earned the moniker "Brazilian Professor" abroad, a nod to jazz and blues icon Professor Longhair. This accolade was bestowed upon him by the esteemed British magazine Blues Matters! Magazine in an interview with the pianist.
For over a quarter-century, this Brazilian pianist has maintained a consistent schedule of performances at bars, theaters, events, and major festivals, both in Brazil and around the world. A four-time recipient of the Açorianos Award, his debut album, "The Power of Love" (2015), stands as a significant testament to his work as a musician and composer. The album was mixed and mastered in Nashville, Tennessee (USA), by Russ Ragsdale, an American sound engineer and producer with a track record that includes collaborations with luminaries such as Michael Jackson, Muddy Waters, Leon Russell, Edgar Winter, and the Travelling Wilburys.
In 2013, Leães was invited by Elton John's producers to open the act at Zequinha Stadium in Porto Alegre for over 20,000 people. This significant highlight propelled Leães's career and paved the way for his debut album, "The Power of Love."
Russ Ragsdale describes it as, "An album that people will continue to listen to in the years to come. Leães's command of the keys, his ability to express and draw from the influences of his favorite artists, bridges the past and the present. Listening to the 11 songs of 'The Power of Love' is like falling down the rabbit hole in 'Alice in Wonderland' and embarking on a remarkable multisensory journey."
In the words of American producer and musician Ron Levy, who shared the stage with BB King and Albert King, "What's the perfect fusion of New Orleans R&B and Brazilian soul? Luciano Leães & The Big Chiefs."
Leães has collaborated with significant international blues artists, including Carey Bell, Magic Slim, Earl Thomas, Hubert Summlin, Larry McCray, Wee Willie Walker, John Primer, among others. He has graced renowned venues such as Antone’s in Austin and Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. His compositions have found a home on prestigious American airwaves like WWOZ in New Orleans and 88.1 KDHX in St. Louis. Adding to his collection, he secured another Açorianos Award and garnered valuable experiences for his future works.
Leães embarked on three tours in the United States and one in Argentina on 2017, solidifying the significance of his work beyond national borders. He accompanied the Blues Music Awards-nominated singer Annika Chambers in performances at the Focsani Blues Festival in Romania and the Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland. Additionally, he participated in prominent national festivals such as Ilhabela Folk & Blues Fest, Festival de Blues de Ribeirão Preto, Festival Blues de Londrina, and Maringá Midnight Hour Jazz & Blues.
A live version of "Song for JB," paying tribute to legendary New Orleans pianist James Booker - was released on 2018. This single emerged from a recording of a performance alongside the Orquestra Unisinos Anchieta and had its premiere on the esteemed American radio station WWOZ. It was also released during a mini-tour across the southern United States.
On August 11th 2022 the Brazilian pianist Luciano Leães released his latest work "LIVE AT PIANISTICO" in a packed theater of the Santa Casa Cultural-Historical Center in Porto Alegre. In the new album Leães does not stray from the blues, but takes a step further, as he expands his views on R&B, jazz and instrumental music with elements of Brazilian and Latin American music. Besides Leães' piano playing, the trio is formed by Edu Meirelles (bass) and Ronie Martinez (drums).
The CD/booklet contains the presentation of his trio during the pandemic in one of the main instrumental music ifestivals n Brazil: the International Pianistic Festival. In this same edition shined names like Jeff Gardner (USA), Amilton Godoy (Zimbo Trio, Elis Regina, Tom Jobim), Michael Pipoquinha, and Cristóvão Bastos (Black Rio, Chico Buarque, Aldir Blanc). With each new addition, the event held in southern Brazil brings together the cream of local and South American musicians, in addition to bringing artists from various parts of the world. In this important exchange, genres are mixed - classical, jazz, blues, Brazilian popular music, etc.
Initially, Luciano Leães did not intend to release a live album of this performance, but the work materialized thanks to the encouragement of producer Russ Ragsdale (Nashville, TEN) and Tom Worrell (New Orleans, LA), resident pianist in New Orleans. The North Americans were thrilled with what they heard, convincing the Brazilian musician to release the concert as a live album.