Standard Sounds

Annie O Presents: Alexia Bomtempo

Prior to her performance at the Standard East Village, Annie O caught up with Brazilian American singer Alexia Bomtempo to discuss her new album Suspirio, the recording process and her tribute album to Caetano Veloso. Alexia will present songs from her new album and perform some standard Bossa Nova songs for Valentine’s Day in the Penthouse, The Standard, East Village.

Why did you choose the title “Suspiro” for this album?

It is named after a song on the album, written by brilliant Brazilian composers and musicians Domenico Lancellotti and Bruno di Lullo. “Suspiro” means a long, deep breath; a sigh of relief. It’s profound, heartfelt, gentle and delicate. I think it’s a beautiful word that conveys the overall vibe of the record. I also love how the track “Suspiro” turned out.  

Where did you record this album?

We recorded at Mauro Refosco and Jake Owen’s Superlegal Studio in Brooklyn, last Spring. 

You decided to go back to your Bossa Nova roots and you did some covers too—tell us more about how that happened.

I had just returned to New York from a residency in Japan where I was completely immersed in Jazz and Bossa Nova. The idea was to make a modern classy record that explored the soundtrack of my beachside upbringing and love for American Jazz. We gathered a comprehensive mix of songs—some originals by contemporary Brazilian songwriters, some non-obvious standards by João Donato, Cy Coleman and Peggy Lee, and some that I wrote with my partner Jake Owen. It’s not a throwback record but it pays tribute to the Bossa Nova sound of the 60s with a modern touch. 

You have put together an amazing team of producers and guests on this album-can you talk about some of them and why you chose them?

It all started when I ran into Stéphane San Juan in New York, an old friend, who had just relocated from Rio. He’s an incredibly talented multi-cultural French producer, drummer and composer and was in the middle of recording a Jazz trio project at Jake’s studio. I came to him with this idea of doing a Bossa jazz album and invited him to produce it with Jake. We had Vitor Gonçalves (piano) and Eduardo Belo (bass) join Jake (guitar) and Stéphane (drums) and recorded everything live, in the spirit of the classic recordings. I was honored to have trumpeter Michael Leonhart be part of these sessions as well. 

Brazilians like a good party and they bring it with them everywhere they go, including live music shows. American audiences can be a bit more discerning, but there is beauty in that too.

Where are you based? And do you return often to Brazil?

I’m based in New York and love being exposed to the level of art and talent the city has to offer. My dad’s whole family is in Brazil and I try to get there at least a couple of times a year. 

Are you touring with this new album?

The new album just came out exclusively in Japan and we are planning a tour there in the Summer. It will be released worldwide later this year and we’ll have new dates on the books.

What would you say is the difference between American audiences/fans and Brazilian ones? 

Brazilians like a good party and they bring it with them everywhere they go, including live music shows. American audiences can be a bit more discerning, but there is beauty in that too.

Are you excited about playing on Valentine’s Day?

Yes! This will be my first show ever on Valentine’s Day! We plan on making it memorable and romantic, of course. 

What can we expect from your show at the Standard East Village, as part of the Annie O Music series?

I’m sharing the stage with some of the finest musicians in town—Eduardo Belo (bass), Jorge Continentino (tenor sax), Vitor Gonçalves (keys), Jake Owen (guitar) and Mauro Refosco (percussion). 

These guys express such a high level of musicianship and get the subtlety in playing this material—the meaning behind the text and feel of where this all came from. It’s a special lineup that understands history while looking forward. 

You recorded a tribute album to Caetano Veloso in English, “I Just Happen to be Here”. Did Caetano ever hear it? Did he say anything to you?

Yes, we recorded “I Just Happen to be Here” in Rio and Salvador before I moved to NY. It is a personal tribute to his 70s English language exile-era classics and I am so proud of that record. I made sure to have his permission before we started the album, and when he heard it, he loved it and thanked me for recording these songs again. I was flattered.



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