Influenced by Brazilian pop and the music of her native Argentina, Gabriela Anders spent much time in America soaking up jazz and R&B sensibilities, all of which inform her singing. The daughter of a jazz saxophone player, Anders studied classical guitar while a child but moved to piano study at a Buenos Aires conservatory. She spent much time in New York as well, soaking up the music of tenor specialists John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon. She also studied with Don Sebesky and began singing with Grover Washington, Jr. and Tito Puente while going to college. A brief time in Japan resulted in her first album, 1996's Fantasia (recorded as Beleza), though she had returned to New York by 1997.
Gabriela Anders floats songs of love and loss on a warm Latin breeze, kissed with jazz, pop and r&b sensibilities. Her wash of alternately serene and syncopated passion is definitely the remedy for the saturated senses of the '90s. After being accosted by billboards, traffic and uninvited sound-sharing, Gabriela's distinctive fusion of styles is an oasis in the desert of sensory overload.
Gabriela Anders' debut on Warner Bros. Records, Wanting, is brimming with vocal subtlety; although smooth, it is anything but simple. Arrangements and production by Paul Brown, George Duke, Allain Mallet and Anders herself assure an interesting and dimensional journey through the landscape of love. Gabriela's wide-ranging musical influences, experiences and innate sensibilities infuse Wanting with a maturity that is unusual and refreshing.
Gabriela Anders was born to music amidst the grace, paradox and tradition of Argentina. Her father is a noted jazz saxophonist, his father is a violinist and her grandmother on her mother's side, a piano teacher. "It was pretty obvious that I would be a musician," she intones.
Gabriela studied classical guitar privately, and music and piano at a conservatory in Buenos Aires. "Growing up, there was a lot of Brazilian music, and I was totally fascinated with it because it's so harmonically rich and melodically interesting." Adding to the musical medley was her father's influence. Anders explains, "He had a band and I would go to his rehearsals and concerts and that influence became even stronger than my classical studies."
When only fourteen Gabriela started performing in Buenos Aires and at the same time, began visiting her father in New York, where she continued her musical education and exposure to pop and jazz. Legends like Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon had a lasting impact on Anders. "I heard the way they played. When I sing, in a way, I am trying to reflect that instrumental phrasing that I thought was really cool. I was always transcribing solos."
After finishing high school, Gabriela decided that, rather than continuing her classical studies in Buenos Aires, she would move to New York, where she immersed herself in a year of intense study in orchestration for brass and strings in a class conducted by Don Sebesky. Almost immediately, her studio and club work took off and she quickly became an in-demand singer, with a consequently challenging schedule over the next few years. Eventually she began singing with such luminaries as Grover Washingtron, Jr., Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz & Tito Puente and DLG, ultimately forming her own group, and at the same time pursuing a masters degree at Hunter College.
Gabriela's first contact with Warner Bros. Records occurred in'95, when Matt Pierson, Senior Vice President, Jazz, received an unsolicited tape from Anders that as she recalls, "wasn't addressed to anyone in particular." Matt says. "I liked what I heard and wrote a note encouraging Gabriela to send more material when she had it, and to let me know if at anytime she was performing live." Gabriela left for Argentina shortly thereafter, leaving a chapter to be revisited later.
In'96, she moved from the Western Hemisphere to the Far East, recording an album called Fantasia (under the name Beleza) on Alpha Music in Japan. There, she refined her already considerable performance skills prompting regular appearances in the Japanese press during a year of nonstop touring.
Upon returning to New York, she was invited by Artie Traum to record a duet with Michael Franks. Chronicling her road to major label association, Anders says, "Both Michael and Artie were very enthusiastic about my singing and strongly suggested I send a tape to Warner Bros." After giving it due thought, Gabriela sent a copy of her latest material to Warner Jazz. Again, she didn't send it to anyone in particular. When Dana Watson (Director of A&R, Jazz) listened to the tape, he immediately shared it with Matt Pierson, who remembered Gabriela from two years before. Dana put in a call to Anders, who had amassed thirty original songs since the first contact. After seeing her perform live, the label signed her immediately, paving the way for her US debut, Wanting, and also making her the first signing to Warner Jazz from an unsolicited tape.
Wanting encompasses a world of music, rhythms, vocal and emotional expression infused with liquid sensuality and percussive elegance. Warmth and longing permeate every syllable and sound. Gabriela wrote or co-wrote ten of the albums twelve tracks. The remaining two are a'90s version of the classic "Girl From Ipanema" and a tasty cover of Roberta Flack's "You Know What It's Like." Both were produced by Paul Brown, famous for his chart-topping work with Boney James, George Benson, Peter White and many others.
At first Gabriela had some reservations about recording "Girl From Ipanema." "I'm more present through my own compositions. When they told me the idea, I almost had a heart attack. I told them,'I will have no friends left if I do that.' They would think it was corny. It's played in every bar and club and it's been recorded so many times. Matt [Peirson] asked me to just'go hear the arrangement.' I thought,'How different can they make it? It's a bossa nova.' When I heard the song, I fell in love with the arrangement. It had captured the beauty of the song. There's a reason it's a standard. It taught me a lesson about being rigid. Paul Brown gave it a very contemporary Babyface-sort-of approach and I was really moved when I sang it."
Paul Brown also supplied production on the album's title track, "I'll Be Loving You," and "Fire Of Love." The latter is the album's opening track and first single and serves as a perfect showcase for Gabriela's distinctive singing style and wordless vocals. "I love this song," she remarks. "And I loved having Rick Braun, playing trumpet…. I like using instrumentation in a way that is not so common."
She had a willing compatriot in Allain Mallet who is extremely adventurous in his use of form and sound and produced and arranged "Fantasia," "Seven Days" and the bittersweet "Love Is So Unkind." "'Fantasia,'" recounts Gabriela, "is very Argentinean in style. I sang it with all my heart. I could sing it in Spanish, and I said'this is my chance.'
More r&b-inflected jazz is served up, complements of producer George Duke on "Forever," a richly romantic duet, featuring Anders and Eric Benet. According to Anders, the song stretched her musical boundaries. "It was the first time I had sung to an r&b beat. It was challenging. When I hear Eric Benet singing, the sun comes out; he sounds so good. He's unbelievably musical." Duke's contribution to the album is rounded out with "Just An Hour" and the sizzling "Feels So Good."
Wanting's closing track is "Brasileira," a song that is very special to Anders. "I wrote that song after I came back from Brasil the first time. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty and the nature. It was the first song that I had money to record in a good studio. I didn't want to re-record it and lose the magic, so we remixed it for the album."
Gabriela's love of beauty and nature insinuates itself into her music. She caresses each word and, no matter how intricate the rhythm or sophisticated the arrangement, no matter how she shapes and plays with sound, there is a profound serenity found at the heart of each song. Gabriela says, "Music has been good to me." One could argue that Anders music is "good for you." One thing is certain-her luscious debut serves up an intoxicating dose of fire, fantasy and love for those'wanting' to introduce some ear-and-soul-friendly aural adventure into their life, and escape the inevitable assault of the everyday.