Interview with Romero Lubambo

Romero Lubambo talks to 441 about Rio de Janeiro Underground

How did Rio de Janeiro Underground come about?
"I was asked to record a CD of mine, but this time with some special guests. One had to be a vocalist. At first, they talked about a female vocalist, but for many years I've been working some projects with Ivan Lins, so I suggested he be the vocalist, and the company loved the idea.

The idea for the instrumentalist was, since the beginning, Herbie Mann, because of my connection with him and his music. I would have to record many original compositions, which I like ( I always like to put new songs on my CDs ).

Any memorable aspects?
"Rio de Janeiro Underground was a very fun CD to record. On one side, I worked with my mentor, (my American father) Herbie Mann. It has always been a great experience for me to work with him, and we played together for 17 years!! The name of the CD was given by my great producer, SUSHI, because of Herbie's big hit recording "Memphis Underground" and to connect Herbie's work with my work in a Brazilian way: "Rio de Janeiro Underground."

"For another side, I had another idol of mine in the same CD: Ivan Lins. I have known and admired Ivan for many years, since he started in Rio many years ago. I was always crazy about his music. He recorded with me on the same day he arrived from Brazil, and despite his tiredness, he performed beautifully.

"I'm very honored that I have these two people as my special guests.

"Another very important side of this project is the musicians that participated on the recordings. I just love Cesar Camargo Mariano and his way of playing, always elegant and beautiful. And Paul Socolow, Sergio Brandao, Dario Eskenazi, Ricky Sebastian, Mark Walker, Cyro Baptista are all my close friends and my choices of musicians anywhere in the world!! And we had this great percussion ensemble (bateria) Gingapura Nova York brought to us by my friend Yasu Okkotsu. There was an atmosphere of love in the studio all the time. I felt that everybody was comfortable enough to open their hearts and souls for the music. It was really a treat to have such a high level of musicianship and love in the same place.

"And to put everything together, we had an incredible producer, my friend Atsushi Kosugi, to put the best of everybody on "the tape," in the nicest and friendliest way.

"It was a unforgettable joy to work on this CD!!"

How did you meet everyone involved with the project?
"Paul Socolow went to Brazil around 1980 and stayed there for a few months, and I met him there and started playing with him in Brazil. After I moved to New York in 1985, we played many years together with Herbie Mann, NY Samba Band and on lots of other occasions.

'Sergio Brandao was in NY in 1985. Since I arrived, we have played hundreds of time together. He is an incredible musician.

"I knew of Cesar Camargo Mariano much before we met, because of the countless recordings and arrangements he did for almost everybody in Brazil for many years. I met him in 1994 when he came to live in NY, and I went to see him at the Blue Note. After the show, I went backstage to introduce myself.

"Dario Eskenazi, great piano player, I met him when we played with Paquito D'Rivera around 1990. Also we were in many "gigs" together. He knows a lot about Brazilian music!

"Ricky Sebastian I met when he joined the Herbie Mann's band around 1991. We travelled the whole world playing great music. What a musician!!! He can play every type of music very well.

"Mark Walker I met through Paquito also. (Paquito always finds the most incredible musicians all the time.) Mark also plays so well any type of music that you think it is a native playing!!

"My friend Cyro Baptista I met when I came to NY. He was already here and played a lot everywhere. He is a great musician and a very special "thing." We are always playing together, from Herbie to Kathleen Battle.

"From the "bateria" I knew Yasu for many years. He plays percussion and guitar very well and is a great friend.

Give us your thoughts on the U.S. market as it pertains to your new album.
"I think that Brazilian music is being accepted into jazz, pop, classical, and world music. I recorded many crossover CDs because of that. This opens for sure a bigger door for my new CD, because fans of those other types of music will be more at home with my music."

Was this title available in other counties?
"Yes, this was released in Japan"

Is there anything new on the market that has been influencing you these days?
"Sting, Norah Jones, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento..."

Who are your biggest influences?
"I have many, because I think that everything I hear touches my music. And I like to listen to everything, no matter how different it is from what I do. But I love Wes Montgomery, George Benson, John Scofield, Alan Holdsworth, Michael Brecker, Dianne Reeves, and many more."

Is there a song that you have yet to record that you have always wanted to recreate or that may hold special meaning for you?
"I did one in this new CD called Estrela Guia sang by Ivan Lins. But I still want to rerecord "Summer Night" by Pamela Driggs and me, "In Dreams" by Pamela and me, and my song called "Pamela Jane."

How did you get started in the music business?
"In Brazil, 1969 I started playing at dances, parties, and shows with my uncle, and I never stoped working in music. But it was only after I finished college that I became a professional musician 100%. And I'm very happy about this decision."

What future recording projects would be the most interesting and exciting for you to work on?
"A CD of guitar and strings recording beautiful music."

Other Fun Facts

Birth Place: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Personal Hobbies: Cars, reading, driving, buying

Education: Degree in Mechanical Engineering from P.U.C. Rio de Janeiro. Classical guitar degree from Villa Lobos School of Music in Rio.

Favorite Artist: Pamela Driggs