Carmen Cuesta (carmen Cuesta-loeb)

After the critically acclaimed Mi Bossa Nova, which explored her love for Brazilian music and her lifelong passion, Carmen Cuesta returned home to Spain to experience the timeless magic of the Bolero in her new, soulful, and sensual masterpiece Toda Una Vida. The singer, along with her husband Chuck Loeb (guitarist/producer), tap into the richness of Spanish and South American classics that have over the years become the Spanish equivalent to the Great American Songbook. They create a magnificent collection that encompasses Toda Una Vida. Cuesta believes the album’s title refers to the bolero, a type of music she has heard throughout her life. It’s also a tribute to the long and rich musical partnership that she has enjoyed with Loeb over many decades. The 12-track set was released by Tweety Records and was produced in Madrid by Loeb, Cuesta and Paco Ortega, a popular Spanish music producer. Cuesta and Loeb met Ortega for the first time at a Madrid concert. They were performing music from Mi Bossa Nova (Cuesta’s 2011 album), which features lush interpretations of classic bossa songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius De Moraes. Ortega was impressed by what they heard and invited them to record at Musigrama Studios. Carmen was inspired to record a CD of these timeless classics after a spontaneous get-together with a friend of hers vocalist. Carmen spent the next year exploring the huge repertoire of boleros and finally decided on the songs she wanted to include in her CD. Cuesta was born in Madrid so many of the songs she considered were familiar to her. Loeb, however, was not familiar with popular songs like “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas”, and “Besame Mucho” but, as a “harmony addict”, he instantly saw the jazzy possibilities that bolero standards provided. After putting together a few basic arrangements, Loeb and Ortega felt Spanish musicians would be more authentic. They set a recording date and contacted Ortega to ask him about bringing in some of Madrid’s finest musicians. She adds, “Collaborating Chuck allowed me to take the arrangements into a slightly new dimension, a different approach.” We worked hard to create a jazz-influenced sound, instead of traditional renderings. The resulting interpretations were more personal and soft than the traditional renditions. Their intricate reharmonization was the key to their success. The players gave us the extra richness that we were looking for. Toda Una Vida grew gracefully from that point. Cuesta’s vocal and jazz guitarist foundation was complemented effortlessly by the exceptional talents of Jose San Martin, a Uruguayan drummer, and Antonio “Tono”, Miguel, pianist Moises Sanchez (both from Madrid), and Yuvisney Aguilar, a Cuban-born percussionist. Antonio Serrano, Kike Perdomo, and Oli Rockberger, who play the piano on the title track, “Todo Una Vida”, are other participants. Cuesta said, “It was amazing to work with these wonderful musicians.” She added that they were all open to trying new arrangements and being able to collaborate with them. They were open to adding something new to the songs and exploring the beauty of their music, rather than bringing in preconceived ideas. It was like polishing raw diamonds. These songs were familiar to me from childhood, and they were always there in my head throughout my life. But I didn’t know the lyrics. Toda Una Vida was a chance for me to not only get to know them better but also to give my own interpretation. Although I didn’t understand the lyrics, the songs provided me with comfort and pleasure. It’s okay for people to not know the exact meaning of the words. This allows them to relax, enjoy, and create their own meanings from the songs. People will feel connected to these songs, even if they don’t know the exact meaning of the lyrics. Carmen Cuesta, a Madrid native, was a member of Madrid’s school and church choirs at the age of 15. She began playing the guitar, singing, and writing songs by the age of 15, and soon after she found herself performing and recording while studying education at the University of Madrid. After auditioning, she was cast in “Godspell” as Mary Magdalena. As a performer and studio singer, her career flourished. She also pursued a solo career in singing and songwriter. When she started collaborating with Madrid’s most prominent musicians, jazz became a part of her musical world. Although her passion was theatre and music, she also took part in a film and spent six months in London studying English and dance. Loeb met her in Madrid when she was performing in a major Teatro Monumental production. She moved to New York City within months, a move that changed her life dramatically and greatly expanded her musical horizons. She joined Andy LaVerne’s piano group Paradise. This featured her singing songs she had written with LaVerne. The band also included Mark Egan, bassist, and drummer Danny Gottlieb who were part of Pat Metheny’s at that time. After Loeb’s many years of playing with Stan Getz on the saxophone, Cuesta and he formed Paralelo together. This group incorporated jazz, pop and Latin music. They recorded and performed for many years around NYC. After a brief stint as co-host of the TV talk magazine “Imagenes” on SIN (the largest Spanish-speaking network in America), Cuesta decided to give up all her career pursuits to spend time with her children, Christina, and Lizzy. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in English Arts. Cuesta started collaborating with many jazz musicians she had met through Loeb as she grew older. She recorded and wrote with Grover Washington Jr., Michael Franks and Peabo Bryson, among other people. She began her solo recording career in the mid-90s with One Kiss. She also released Peace of Mind (featuring Bob James), Dreams with Michael Brecker, John Patitucci, and You Still Don’t Know Me. In 2006, she rekindled her love for Brazilian music through a series of concerts. The Mi Bossa Nova CD was released. It received wide attention and critical acclaim. Cuesta states, “It’s exciting to continue my solo career with a project such as Toda Una Vida. It means so much and has brought me so many joy.” With the help of Chuck, and all these amazing musicians and engineers I feel like I’m bringing treasures into the world, especially to listeners who may not have heard them before. Listening to them will help them live on, and hopefully you’ll enjoy them as the timeless masterpieces they are.nu003cbr/u003enfrom

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