Vocalist Adela Dalto's first Milestone release, Papa Boco, integrates sophisticated elements of Latin and Brazilian music with jazz to create a compelling blend of sensuous fiery rhythms with sultry vocals. "Papa Boco" was co-produced by Todd Barkan and Adela's collaborator for the past fifteen years, pianist/arranger Aloisio Aguiar, and features Adela backed by a who's who of Latin and Brazilian musicians including trumpeter Claudio Roditi, flutist Dave Valentin, and guitarist Romero Lubambo as well as percussionists Milton Cardona, Steve Berrios, and Cafe. The arrangements were written by Adela and Aguiar, who also plays keyboards on eight of the album's ten tracks.
The energetic title selection, "Papa Boco," spotlighting Roditi's exhilarating trumpet work, was written by Adela's friend, Dr. Sanchez Acosta, and tells the story of a Santería medium who protects believers from evil by holding a red handkerchief and a cigar in one hand and a candle in the other. Santería, which is practiced in many segments of the Latin community, counts Adela among its believers; she feels that "the less I know about it, the better protected I am. But I do keep my glass of water near the front door."
Adela fell in love with pianist/composer Horace Silver's "Peace" when she was working with a Latin-jazz group and looking for interesting songs. She quickly added it to her repertoire and is pleased to finally record it. Adela's version, perhaps the definitive jazz vocal rendering, features a tenor solo by Dick Oatts, a veteran of the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.
"Papagaio Rei," an appetizing samba written by Adela and Aloisio Aguiar, was named for Aguiar. "Aloisio," Adela explains, "is a great talker so some of the guys nicknamed him Papagaio, which means parrot. When I called Claudio and asked him to play on the session, he told me he also had a song named 'Papagaio,' which in Portuguese also means kite. So Aloisio suggested we add the word King to the title." The composition started as a hook of Aloisio's that Adela used for an intro to a Jo o Donato composition but "then I decided it was too pretty to waste, so we got together and came up with this tune."
The late Brazilian legend Antonio Carlos Jobim composed the lyrical "Falando de Amor," and Adela chose it because "I love so many of his songs and they're all so beautiful. This song is from one of his older albums that I used to listen to a long time ago, before I spoke Portuguese. I never really knew what the song was saying before, but now that I speak Portuguese, the lyric ('speaking of love') came alive, and I decided it was time to record it."
"Guajiro Mio" is a vigorous cha-cha composed by Adela, her late husband Jorge, and keyboardist Aguiar. Adela reports that "Guajiro is the nickname for the mountain people of Puerto Rico and Carlos Santana recorded a song titled Vamonos Guajira,' so this is in answer to his song."
"April Child" was written by Moacir Santos, a Brazilian living in California. "This tune has been around for some time," Adela explains, "and it seemed appropriate to record it on this album, which is a combination of Brazilian, Latin, and jazz." Oatts returns for another tenor break that serves to enliven the already joyous proceedings.
Although it's definitely in the Latin vein, Adela believes that her original "I'll Always Remember" is "more of a pop tune. When I write, I come up with melodies and lyrics at the same time. Aloisio sits at the piano finding chords and trying things. Aloisio and I work together a lot and this is one song we arranged with a pop feeling."
"Sad Love Song" is based on the Brazilian standard "Menina Moáa," recorded by Stan Getz and Lee Konitz. Adela originally recorded the composition with Konitz, yet she preferred an American lyric; so one day in Japan, looking out her hotel room, she let her imagination run free, creating the new lyric. Aguiar's arrangement features Valentin's alto flute.
Adela wrote lyrics for trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring" and the result is "Sweet Spring." After sitting in with Hubbard and singing the standard "It Might As Well Be Spring," he asked her to write new lyrics to his composition, "Up Jumped Spring." "He described the song as being written for his son, who was born that spring. He told me his son looked like he had just popped out of the ground like a spring flower. I took that into consideration when I wrote the lyric, which he really dug. So he let me retitle it."
The closer, another Dalto original, "Estaba en Nada," literally means "[he] was nothing." "It's a playful tune about a girl telling her friends about this great guy she just met but it turns out he didn't have a car, didn't have money for the bus and was married with six kids and lived with his mother-in-law, you know, estaba en nada."
Born in Texas to Mexican parents, Ms. Dalto was raised in Gary, Indiana. She was strongly influenced by r&b as well as jazz. It was her late husband, Jorge Dalto, who encouraged Adela to begin her professional career. Jorge, George Benson's former pianist and musical director, helped Adela to develop her interest in jazz and introduced her to the subtle and exciting rhythms of Latin and Brazilian music. As she began to study and sing professionally, Adela found herself greatly influenced by jazz singers Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington, Latin vocalists Graciela and Celia Cruz, as well as Brazilians Elis Regina and Leny Andrade.
After several years of performing locally in New York, Adela joined Jorge's InterAmerican Band and recorded "Ease My Pain" on his 1985 CD Urban Oasis. Since then, she has worked with Latin favorites Jerry Gonzalez and Hilton Ruiz, as well as performing with Panamanian saxman Mauricio Smith's Latin Jazz Orchestra at the Rainbow Room in New York. Adela was also a featured vocalist with the late Mario Bauza's Afro-Cuban Orchestra, and with Carlos "Patato" Valdes's AfroJazzia ensemble. Most recently the New York resident has been performing regularly with her own group and as a guest vocalist at such noted Manhattan clubs as the Blue Note, S.O.B.'s, and Birdland.