Osi's Bio By Bob Dorough
I remember first meeting Osi; it was at one of those musical parties that take place in New York City. Ray and I went to one in 1996: lot's of bodies, friendly faces, lots of pianists and oodles of singers. Food, drinks and at the center of attention - a Steinway Grand, well-lit, well spaced. It's another darned "Open Mike"!.... (without a check)! Ray Passman, New York's Svengali of songs and singers and open mikes, had already heard Osi sing and he brought her along to introduce her around. He was whispering in my ear, "This young lady is good - we're gonna get her up there later on". He's always around and always discovering new singers in town, matching them up with songs and musicians, steering them to the open mikes (he might sing one himself), and watching their careers develop. It's Ray love affair with the scene. As a publisher and a songwriter, Ray knows the scene and he knows the repertoire.
Now a few years later (and what years they were for Osi), here we have her debut recording: WHISPER NOT - twelve tracks of multilingual songs that are sure to satisfy any lover of songs and of singing.
Osi was born in Israel. Her father made a career move that took the family to Los Angeles for five years (1980 -85). In these impressionable years she must have soaked up a lot of the rhythm and rhymes of LA and Hollywood - along with the language of the new world. Yes, Osi is a bit of a polyglot and this sojourn in California gave her a foundation for English, learned by ear. Years later she was to learn Portuguese in the same way - by ear. But, back in Israel by the age of ten, she lived the normal life of an Israeli youth, studying French and speaking Hebrew of course, as well as English, and listening to the music of her culture, with some Barbara Streisand and other theatrical music pouring through her subconscious musical senses, until - a day she will always remember - she came across the Ella Fitzgerald recording of "Drop Me Off in Harlem". She heard it many times and was impressed with the swing and insouciance of that great jazz personality. We might surmise that she found her way to other Fitzgerald recordings and an idea was formed in her brain.
At last, Osi migrated to New York with hopes of "finding herself" and dreams of the Broadway stage. Since that October of 1995 she steeped herself in the tempo of the times and studied her head off: music, language, theater, dancing, singing, literature, culture, meeting musicians, rehearsing, practicing, taking advantage of the great cauldron that is NYC. Her mentor (by now), Mr. Passman, made her listen to: first, Irene Kral (and others) and then to Jobim and, most pointedly, to Elis Regina. This Intrepid lass pitched right in to learn the meaning of the language of Brazil, and the beat of the bossa nova and of jazz, and the idea came to fruition.
Osi will knock your socks off. Is she a Broadway actress who likes to sing jazz or is she a gifted jazz singer who has eyes for Broadway? In the fierce competition of NYC she has done quite well so far. She worked for a year at the Hampshire House (in the Plantation Room) where she honed her Brazilian repertoire, and she starred in the Dick Barcley production of "Piaf" wherein she sang in French the songs of Edith Piaf (one of those appears as the closer of this set, Rien de Rien, no regrets.....). She has appeared in a number of cabaret rooms as well as doing her share of open mike workouts. Incidentally, she did impress me that day in 1996 and does even more so each subsequent time I hear her. I have no doubt that a bright future awaits Osi on Broadway (listen to how she handles the difficult, operatic, Chovendo Na Roseira), or in the Jazz rooms of Manhattan (Lullabye of Birdland). For now, let's listen to this impressive, first outing of Osi and her compatriots.
Joe Vincent Tranchina plays piano throughout the set, accompanying and soloing beautifully. Benny Koonyevsky, equally facile, plays drums and overdubbed percussion. The bass work is divided between Marty Confurious on the upright and Emmanuel Mann on the electric. The music they play here shows a lot of planning and rehearsing and a mutual respect for the songs and for each other.
WHISPER NOT, the song by the great jazz composer, Benny Golson, opens up the set with beautiful diction by Osi. Mr. Tranchina solos with a dark tone, evocative of Tristano. CHEGA DE SAUDADE, one of the most interesting compositions of the equally great Jobim, is next. Notice the use of two modalities in this bossa nova (this is rare). Osi has tailored the lyrics a bit for her own viewpoint. LOVE, LOOK AWAY is given a nice, open treatment, allowing time for thought. This one is by two others masters of the art of songwriting. Osi ends it with a phrase of pure passion. Now we switch to the language of France (LA VIE, L'AMOUR), and our artist is equal to the task, in a perky samba beat yet! CHOVENDO NA ROSEIRA, with it's expressions of rain falling on roses - crimson petals scattering - and of love, illustrates the technique that Osi brings to her art, making one agree that she will be able to handle the works of contemporary Broadway. On her final passages, Osi improvises a "quote". Musicians do it all the time and usually in improvisational mode. Osi assures me this was so in the take we are hearing. The quote? A snippet of Ravel's Bolero.
Hey, we're swingin' again, with an up-tempo THAT'S ALL.... give the drummer some! O CANTADOR, (the singer), in Portuguese and English. Another jazz standard keeps it moving as we sing the LULABYE OF BIRDLAND (nice tempo, folks!). Here is another rarity - in fact - a premiere recording of the new song by Ray Passman and Meredith D'Ambrosio, dedicated to the memory of the late great, ELIS REGINA. In a turnaround we have an instance of a Portuguese translation, with the lyrics of Cristina Almeida, instead of the other way around....you know, countless Brazilian songs have been translated to English.
Well, I leave you now. I hope you have enjoyed the music as much as this writer. There are two more Brazilian songs (FOTOGRAPHIA and O MESTRE-SALA DOS MARES), and the final, the aforementioned Piaf gem: RIEN DE RIEN.