Agora is the 2011 debut release from vocalist Yuka Ueda who specializes in Brazilian samba and bossa nova music, singing primarily in Portuguese at jazz bars throughout Japan.
The striking singer assembles some of her favorite partners for this effort, including guitarist Shinji Hashimoto, pianist Junichiro Ohkuchi, and bassist Daisuke Toi. This jazz family of musicians also joins Yuka Ueda (sometimes written as Yu~ka, Yũka, or Yuuka Ueda) frequently at her beloved neighborhood jazz bar Gate One in Tokyo.
On Agora, Ueda leads with a straightforward piano-guitar-voice format, the strong, full voice of the singer confidently flowing over the evocative chords for an atmosphere brimming with romance, nostalgia, and zest.
Yuka Ueda’s repertoire accumulated over years of performing both well-known and less familiar authentic Brazilian music, and this album contains just a tantalizing selection of those fan favorites, making for an eagerly-awaited release.
Lovers of Brazilian and Latin music will be delighted with songs such as “Reunao De Tristeza”, “Flor De Lis”, and “Pressentimento”, and casual listeners will recognize the familiar tunes “Triste” and “Dinji” which are often played as standards on jazz albums. In a creative twist, the song “Berimbau”, which often provokes rousing energy at Yuka Ueda’s live shows, gets special treatment here as the album’s prologo and epilogo bookends, performed in vocal solo with whispering tones and booming sincerity for quite a personal touch.
Yuka Ueda: Agora
Yuka Ueda – vocals
Junichiro Ohkuchi – piano
Shinji Hashimoto – guitar
Daisuke Toi – piano (#8), electric bass (#10)
Released in 2011 on Audio Fab Records as AFD-106.
(Names in Japanese: Yuka Ueda 上田裕香 Junichiro Ohkuchi 大口純一郎 Shinji Hashimoto 橋本信二 Daisuke Toi トオイダイスケ)
Audio sample from “Flor de Lis”, the fourth track on this album:
Video of Yuka Ueda singing “Pressentimento” live:
Video of Yuka Ueda singing “Triste” live: