Saturday, April 29, 2017

Brad Cole putting new spin on blues, bossa nova

In putting together his group Bossa Blue, singer-songwriter Brad Cole - who these days splits his time between his hometown of Chicago and New York City when he's not on tour - wanted to marry two different musical genres - the blues and bossa nova.

The group recently finished a residency at The Hideout in Chicago. I had the chance to talk to him about Bossa Blue.

Q - Great talking to you. In coming up with the idea for Bossa Blue, what were your goals and do you think you have accomplished them? 

My goals for Bossa Blue were to mash up bossa nova and the blues with a bunch of my favorite classic and contemporary tunes and I want to get the band in shape so that we can do more residencies along the lines of what did at The Hideout.      

Q - I know that the band has covered such songs as Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" and Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home." What led you to want to reinterpret these songs and what new dimension do you think you have brought to them?

These songs have great melodies and hooks and it’s my predilection to give them more of a jazz feel. These songs are the standards of our generation and therefore must be interpreted.  

Q - How did you go about assembling Bossa Blue and what do you think each member brings to the band? 

The Chicago band is Tad Santos on upright bass, Diana Lawrence on piano and Josh Lava on drums. All are great musicians, each with a strong jazz sensibility and a gift for vocal arrangements. Having Diana and I singing together is a direct link to the male/female vocal harmonies intrinsic to Bossa Nova. 

Q - Last year, you released your fourth album, "Lay It Down," which received much acclaim. What did you want to achieve with the album? 

“Lay It Down” saw me move from a folksier sound to something a little more soulful and musical. My inspirations for the album were bossa nova, reggae and soul music, but updated for the 21st century.

I feel that I wrote some good stuff that I was able to record with a full band.   

Q - What made you want to move to New York City? How do you think the two music scenes are different? 

I was living in Nashville and fell in love with a woman living in NYC. Moving there benefited my touring, as well, as I am able to play shows up and down the East Coast.   

Chicago has a more intimate music scene, while NYC is more scattered and hectic but the musicians there are especially strong. 

Q - Where do you see Bossa Blue going from here? Will the group continue to be a side project for you as you release new music on your own? 

Bossa Blue is primarily a covers band and a lot of fun. I am still writing a lot of original material and the musical sensibility of Bossa Blue is definitely influencing my music.

As to where Bossa Blue is headed, we’ll just have to see as more people have a chance to see us and what the overall reaction is. But for now it is fun and a great challenge.

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