Fleurine — vocalist, composer, lyricist, and Brazilian music authority — has gained a devoted international following for her “warm, enveloping sound and gentle rhythmic drive” (Los Angeles Times) and her “cunning brand of vocal wizardry” (JazzTimes). The Dutch born, Portugal reared polyglot who has resided in the US for the past 20 years went on to become the first singer authorized to translate into English the lyrics of the legendary Chico Buarque for her spellbinding 2008 Sunnyside release San Francisco (produced by Robert Sadin). She was also the sixth lyricist worldwide, following in the footsteps of Abbey Lincoln and Jon Hendricks, to write and record lyrics to music by Thelonious Monk, specifically her adaptation of “Think of One” for her EmArcy/Universal debut album Meant to Be! (featuring Tom Harrell, Christian McBride, Dutch guitar great Jesse van Ruller and others, with liner notes by Hendricks himself).
She has also composed lyrics for songs by Kenny Dorham, Curtis Fuller, Joshua Redman, Tom Harrell, Thad Jones, and others.
On her self-produced Sunnyside release Brazilian Dream Blooms, Fleurine for the first time performs nearly all her own original music, highlighting her extraordinary working band Boys from Brazil as they draw on a wide range of popular and folkloric genres from bossa nova and samba to baião. Her longtime collaborator, master guitarist Chico Pinheiro, a major presence on San Francisco, returns on two tracks, with additional cameos by Brad Mehldau on piano and Rhodes and Chris Potter on tenor sax and alto flute. In a historic first, guitarist Ian Faquini’s haunting piece “Contradiction – Contradição” features the first lyrics ever written by famed Brazilian composer Guinga, Faquini’s teacher and mentor (with Fleurine’s English translation).
Fleurine is donating nearly all of the proceeds from Brazilian Dream Blooms to Estrela da Favela, a small idealistic school located in the challenged Mangueira neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. It is her way of giving back to the country that has inspired her throughout her career.
Following her studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Fleurine immersed herself in the New York scene of the mid-1990s, eventually settling in an apartment just steps away from Bradley’s, the storied jazz club and communal hang, now long defunct. There she struck up friendships with greats including Roy Hargrove, who schooled her on American culture and also enlisted her for a whirlwind tour of Cuba (in preparation for his Crisol project). She attended countless New York jam sessions, audited classes at the New School and City College, and was soon landing engagements at Birdland, the Blue Note and other top venues as well as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, and many more.
Following her sophomore release Close Enough for Love (EmArcy/Universal), a duo outing with Mehldau, Fleurine recorded Fire with Robert Sadin producing. She soared alongside the likes of Gil Goldstein, Seamus Blake, Johan Plomp and Peter Bernstein, as well as Mehldau and drummer Jeff Ballard in their first recorded encounter. On San Francisco, she showcased Chico Pinheiro’s original compositions as well as those of Chico Buarque and Francis Hime (all three share the first name Francisco). The San Francisco lineup also included Chris Potter as well as guitarist Freddie Bryant, cellist Erik Friedlander, bassist Doug Weiss, and percussionist Gilad.
Fleurine’s lyrics are featured in the Hal Leonard anthology Sing Jazz! and on “Love Sublime,” the title track of Brad Mehldau and Renee Fleming’s 2008 duo album for Nonesuch. Fellow vocalists, including Carolyn Leonhart and Clarice Assad, have found inspiration in her lyrics as well, performing them with their own groups.
Fleurine’s “effortlessly musical” work (The Guardian) has had a decisive impact, proving her “an artist to be reckoned with” (Die Welt).