Saturday , April 13 2024
Chieko Honda offers something new to the Brazilian samba spectrum that is both melodious and uniquely her own.

Music Review: Chieko Honda – ‘Aquarelle’

Aquarelle is the first solo album from vocalist Chieko Honda. The recording introduces audiences to her blend of Latin rhythms and folkloric melodies. Born in Osaka, Japan, Honda offers something new to the Brazilian samba spectrum that is both melodious and uniquely her own. With nine originals and three covers, Aquarelle is an impressive effort from Honda.

The title track opens the album with ambient soundscapes comprised of rhumba-imbued rhythms and island riffs with folkloric trimmings. The track combines Hawaiian and Brazilian accents, marrying two distinct cultures into one harmonious blend. The samba rhythm of “Linda Flor Yaya” is braided in sonic cascades, bearing a Figi Islands semblance. Cesar Garabini’s breezy guitar riffs sewn along “Prossiga” produce graceful swells along the melody. The lyrics are delivered in Portuguese, with Honda singing lead and Garabini on harmony vocals. The two merge into a comfortable confluence.

The candlelight atmospherics of “Maybe (For the Baby)” travel into a festive spree of samba beats and percolating keys. “On the Crescent Moon” shows Honda in her best form. The chamber music tint of Mika’s keys is paired with sweltering horns that enhance the dramatic nuances in Honda’s vocals. The orchestral tone of the melodic silhouettes produce an ambient effect, manifesting into sonic apparitions that pop up across the track. The lyrics add to the specter-like atmosphere, “On the crescent moon / Having our last dance tonight / Seeking the meaning of this summer … the gentle touch of your fingertips on my face / Lingering still.”

The Latin accents in the instrumentation of “Esquece” produce a light and bubbly mood, which turns heavy and introspective along “Chega de Saudade.” The flamenco hue of Garabini’s guitar chords through “Misty Wind” are twined in swirling horns, producing a dreamy ambience. The cheery dance beats of “Amanhã” and the rippling grooves of “Bygone” switch to a fluid smoothness along “Bloom,” garnering warm textures in the instrumentation.

Honda’s first solo effort brings together the Latin world with the sounds of the Pacific Islands. The blend is a melodic mixture that is uniquely her own, evolved from Honda’s musical influences and her experiences as a live performer.


Chieko Honda – vocals and compositions, Mika – piano and backup vocals, Cesar Garabini – 7-string guitar and backup vocals, Kahil Nayton – cavaquinho, Eduardo Belo – bass, Adriano Santos – drums, Luiz Ebert – drums, Rogerio Boccato – percussion, Hadar Noiberg – flute, Steve Wilson – soprano saxophone


“Aquarelle,” “Linda Flor Yaya,” “Prossiga,” “Maybe (For the Baby),” “On the Crescent Moon,” “Esquece,” “Chega de Saudade,” “Misty Wind,” “Amanhã,” “Bloom,” “Bygone,” “Samba do Xando”


About susanfrancesny

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in eastern Long Island.

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