Singer, guitarist and songwriter Marco Figueira was born in Carangola, a small town in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. His love of music found its expression early on, when he began to sing and play guitar at the age of eight. A move to Rio de Janeiro in his teen years presented Marco with the first real opportunities for serious musical study. He studied classical guitar privately with Luis Antonio Perez, a well-known Rio teacher, and later enrolled at the prestigious Pro Arte Music Conservatory. There, he studied classical guitar with Leo Soares and popular guitar with Henrique Lissovsky. During this time Marco also studied voice with Heloisa Madeira, and sang in the Pro Arte choir, whose eclectic repertoire ranged from Beethoven to Villa Lobos to Jobim. Throughout this period, Marco continued to explore his passion for the music of Brazil's most beloved popular artists, such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento and Joyce. Inspired by these musical heroes, Marco began composing his own songs.
In 1988, Marco fulfilled a long-held dream of moving to New York City. It was here that he quickly established himself as both a solo performer and bandleader, playing for a devoted following in a wide variety of venues.
As it has for so many musicians over the years, New York afforded Marco the chance to study and play with some of the top performers in Brazilian and American jazz. He studied guitar with Paulo Andre Tavares, Romero Lubambo and Paul Meyers, and voice with Datevik Hovanesian.
Brazilliance, Marco's first recording for Blue Toucan Music, is the result of that serendipitous meeting of musical minds. On it, we are treated to Marco's mellow yet swinging vocals, backed by the elegance of Paulo Andre's guitar and a "dream team" rhythm section of Helio Alves (piano), Paulo Braga (drums), and Sergio Brandao (bass). Paulo Andre also provided the impeccable arrangements for all twelve of the tracks on this CD, four of which are brought to even greater heights by the sumptuous string arrangements of the renowned Eumir Deodato. As if these musical riches were not enough, the album is graced by the guest appearances of some of the finest soloists in Brazilian and American jazz: Claudio Roditi (trumpet), Hendrik Meurkens (harmonica), Oscar Feldman (alto sax and flute) and Hiram Bullock (guitar). The musical roster is further enhanced by the tasteful percussion work of Mauro Refosco, and the sleek backing vocals of Kerry Linder and Luiz Simas.
The CD includes five sparkling originals by Marco as well as works by some of the greatest composers of bossa nova and MPB: Tom Jobim, Joao Bosco, Milton Nascimento, Roberto Menescal, Lenine and Rosa Passos. In addition to the familiar samba and bossa nova, the album's varied repertoire covers quite a bit of rhythmic ground, including the northeastern Brazilian afoxe and baiao, as well as a track that mixes several of the musical styles indigenous to Brazil's South American neighbors. Whether singing a wistful ballad or a lively samba, Marco's smooth voice and effortless charm turn each song into a sensuous journey to the heart of Brazil, and his original tunes embody the joy and enchantment of that captivating country. Brazilliance is an auspicious debut for this talented singer/songwriter, and is sure to create new Marco Figueira fans wherever it is heard.