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Artist Spotlight: Ed Motta
Born on August 17th, 1971, in Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Motta had an early inclination for music. During his adolescent years, deep in rock and blues, Ed was recruited as the vocalist for the hard rock band, Kabbalah. Since then, his musical passions and references have expanded to soul, funk, jazz, classic-rock, classical music, blues and Broadway.

The results of this musical melting pot is pure Ed Motta, lauded and respected by his dedicated fan base in Europe, Japan, The United States and throughout Latin America. On stage and in the studio, Ed has engaged in musical exchanges with musicians such as Roy Ayers, Chucho Valdés, Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick (Incognito), Ryuichi Sakamoto, Patrice Rushen, Hubert Laws, Bernard Purdie, João Donato, Dom Salvador and Greg Phillinganes.

At the age of 15, Ed Motta recorded his debut album “Ed Motta & Conexão Japeri” (Warner Music, 1988) which became an instant boogie-funk classic. Three decades later, eleven albums deep, seven soundtracks for film and a score for musical theatre, Ed Motta released his latest work “Criterion of the Senses” in September 2018 in Europe (Membrane) and Japan. The full length album reveals a new chapter of the acclaimed singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer. Since his first LP, Ed was always the de facto producer of his discography, arriving at the studio with a concept in his head and working meticulously towards perfected instrumentation.

Ed’s second album “Um Contrato com Deus” (Warner, 1990), showcased Ed’s growing maturity through experimentation and musical diversification. The album was entirely composed, produced and recorded by Ed and Bombom (bassist and guitarist who also participated in the group Conexão Japeri). During this time period, Ed Motta wrote and recorded his first musical soundtrack for the short film “Leonora Down” from filmmaker Flávia Alfinito.

Released in 1992, Ed’s album “Entre e Ouça” paid homage to the pop-jazz sensibilities of Steely Dan, an obsession of Ed’s which maintains prevalent till today. The album artwork was created by artist Edna Lopes, who also pays homage to the Franco-Belgian comic strip drawing technic, “ligne claire.”

Released at the end of 1993, Ed finished his contract term with Warner for his record “Ao Vivo.” He then traveled to New York for one year and during his stay, recorded for an unfinished Donald Fagen project at River Sound Studio, alongside Eddie Gomez, Chuck Rainey, Bernard Purdie, Lenny White, Paul Griffin, David Spinoza and others. During this time period, Ed continued to expand his musical and cultural vocabulary, including music from his homeland of Brazil.

Upon his return to Rio de Janeiro, Ed applied his musical references and talents towards films. He provided music for two short films - the award-winning “Ninó” directed by Flávia Alfinito, and “Famine” from Patrícia Alves Dias. In 1996, Ed returned to the top of the charts for the theme song to the feature film “Pequeno Dicionário Amoroso” (directed by Sandra Werneck). Ed also performed in London, Buenos Aires, New York, Boston, Miami, Rome and Paris (returned 4 times for an encore at the club Hot Brass). In São Paulo, he participated in a concert alongside the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Nelson Ayres. During this show, he presented instrumental themes, which served as a precursor for future recordings.

Now working with Universal Music, in 1997, Ed released “Manual Prático Para Festas, Bailes e Afins, Vol. 1.” Sonically, the album broadened the range of instrumentation and musicality, with arrangements developed alongside a team that included legendary Lincoln Olivetti, internationally beloved for his mastery of groove and recording technics. The record sales and radio support for “Manual Prático” generated Ed’s biggest tour to date, while also performing in Europe and the US (including a NY show at Summer Stage with vibraphonist Roy Ayers). In 1999, Ed toured the US coast with famed Brazilian signer, Ivan Lins, and their NY performance at Carnegie Hall featured singer Chaka Khan and bassist Will Lee.

Ed also did the soundtrack for the half-length film “De Janela Pro Cinema” (directed by Quiá Rodrigues), which was awarded at Brazilian film festivals.

Ed’s fifth album, “As Segundas Intenções do ‘Manual Prático” (Universal, 2000), was greeted with heavy radio play and also featured the only instrumental track in the repertoire “A Tijuca em Cinemascope.” ???

Released one year later, “Dwitza” (Universal) was practically an instrumental and scat record, with only two tracks that featured lyrics. The album was influenced by spiritual jazz and fusion labels Strata-East and Black Jazz, soundtracks by Ennio Morricone and the vocal duo Jackie & Roy. The title “Dwitza” is a word, invented by Ed himself, with no previous meaning, but features an universal sound. The album was also released in England on CD and vinyl via the label Whatmusic, which allowed Ed to perform again in England and Portugal.

In 2001, Ed continued to work on film, providing music for feature films “A Compartir” (directed by Daniel Filho) and “Sexo, Amor e Traição” (directed by Jorge Fernando). The 21st century amplified and diversified Ed’s field of work, applying his impeccable tastes and encyclopedic knowledge to areas outside of musical performance. He wrote text for DVDs of classic film re-releases, while writing about his favorite filmmakers and movies for various media outlets. He also wrote columns about wine and food and curated wine, beer and tea menus for the Sao Paulo design hotel, Emiliano. Ed also maintained an online wine column for Brazil’s top weekly magazine, “Veja” while presenting a radio show “Empoeirado” for Sao Paulo’s Radio Eldorado, showcasing and presenting rare and obscure gems from his collection of 30,000 records.

As Ed’s extracurricular activities grew, his work on stage never faltered. He continued to tour domestically and internationally, performing at the Blue Note clubs of Japan and touring throughout Europe. In the midst of his travels, he recorded with Incognito, sharing a partnership with Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick and signing the title track “Who Needs Love” which opened their 2002 album. He also recorded with influential figures of the West London future jazz movement, like Nature’s Plan (4 Hero) and Alex Attias, and in Japan, with Mondo Grosso.

Released in 2003, “Poptical” (Trama) is another made-up word, invented for its universal sonority and feeling. Also released on vinyl and CD in England, the album resumes his unique style of pop, bred from his diverse array of musical influences. Analog synthesizers play the role of strings and brass, creating an exotic and other-worldly atmosphere. For the album, Ed produced and arranged the 12 new compositions and played on keyboards and guitars. Also in 2003, “Ed Motta on DVD” was released, which featured shows from that time period, video clips and the ‘making of,’ of his album “Poptical.”

For his 2005 album “Aystelum” Ed combined two of his passions, “spiritual jazz’ of the 1970s and the Broadway tradition spearheaded by Stephen Sondheim. The album’s repertoire alternated between songs with lyrics and instrumental songs (???), which included two sambas in partnership with composer and writer, Nei Lopes, and three songs from the musical “7 - Musical” that was developed by the duo Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho. Starting in September of 2007, the ‘dark’ musical ran for one year in Rio de Janeiro and another year in São Paulo, winning important awards.

“Chapter 9,” released in 2008, was entirely recorded by Ed alone in the studio, which featured English lyrics by Rob Gallagher (from the acid jazz group, Galliano). The rock from his adolescent years and Scott Walker’s gloomy style are among some of the references used for this album.

One year later, “Picnic” (2009) references the boogie funk from the earlier years in his career. Rich in influences, the record closed the first decade of the 21st century with a rhythm and feeling of celebration.

2013 marked the beginning of his partnership with German label, Membran, who released his “AOR” album on vinyl and CD. The album featured Portuguese lyrics (with contributions from other writers) and English lyrics from Rob Gallagher. ] The album tastefully modernized the AOR genre, providing a new platform for the genre within a modern-day context. “Adult Oriented Rock” or “Album Oriented Rock” once dominated the radio charts during the 70s and 80s and through Ed’s interest and passion, was able to expose the musical style to a new audience. The success of the album, generated praise from fans all over the world, which led to tours in Europe, USA , Mexico City and in Japan, where the song “1978” was a radio hit.

Per request of Membran, Ed recorded his 2016 album “Perpetual Gateways” in the United States, alongside multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Kamau Kenyatta. Producer for modern day jazz vocal star, Gregory Porter, Kenyatta always admired Ed’s music and ensembled an all-star cast of musical legends including Patrice Rushen (keyboards), Hubert Laws (flute), Marvin “Smitty” Smith (drums), Cecil McBee Jr and Tony Dummy (bass), Curtis Taylor (trumpet), Rickey Woodward (sax), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards) and Charles Owens (saxophone).

Ed Motta continued to work as a music curator, collaborating with acclaimed music publication, Wax Poetics, for his mixtapes on AOR and City Pop (Japanese AOR / boogie-funk). In 2018, Ed was asked by German DJ, DJ Supermarkt, to compile a Brazilian AOR / boogie-funk compilation for their series “Too Slow To Disco.”

Self-produced and recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Ed’s 13th studio album “Criterion of the Senses” continues to showcase his various influences. Flush with wide-ranging influences, Ed continues to pioneer his own path, while maintaining his dominance of style, meticulous craftsmanship and curation.
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