Saudade, Colour Of Love (Challenge Records)

Maria Mendes

Released October 7, 2022

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2022




Fado music is undeniable for the Portuguese people and for all of those who seek for nostalgic love in the past and present. And so is saudade – a Portuguese word that doesn’t translate to any other language in the world. Fado and saudade are forever bond. They both express the melancholic longing for the past and the hopes it becomes present once again. They also express the belief in destiny as a fortunate and fatalistic power that you cannot escape from. Surprisingly, I find these comparable with love, as love can strike at any moment leaving us powerless, colouring our lives with grey as well as bright rainbow colours. When I first listened to Fado, I felt an indescribable connection with how words and melody were delivered so intensively. That experience stayed with me over the years until I could no longer escape from the desire to combine my love for Jazz with my affection for Portugal.

A project was taking shape. And magical things started to happen. Advised by my dear friend, my bassist Jasper Somsen, I’ve reached out to John Beasley for a collaboration on arranging and producing these Portuguese folk songs. Alongside, I have written originals and was gifted a song by Hermeto Pascoal. The Metropole Orkest joined us opening up new musical possibilities. My third album Close To Me (2019) is the result of this enriching collaboration that gracefully wasn’t doomed to be over then.
This album you are holding in your hands is a result of a long-awaited dream. A live recorded album represents the truthful and thrilling opportunity to expand the music in ways you cannot when recording in a studio. New songs and new orchestrations were specially written for this material, premiered and recorded in Amsterdam, at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in May 2022. On stage: an exceptional team of thirty musicians – my band and the Metropole Orkest conducted by John Beasley. With us in the venue was the audience who kept ignited the joy of why live music is irreplaceable. Wittgenstein said “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”. I believe in music as an unlimited language that can defy stylistic boundaries and can trigger (in us musicians, and you, the listener) surprise and enchantment. This music is about how I feel Fado and how I love it, free of definitions, free of limitations. This is no Fado album. This is no traditional Jazz music. This is an adventure that is real and can be felt by everyone. As love is.

Track Listing:

1. Com Que Voz (A. Oulman / Luís de Camões) 8:44

2. Tudo Isto É Fado (F. Carvalho / A. Teixeira Nazaré) 6:58

3. Verdes Anos (C. Paredes) 7:49

4. Foi Deus (A. Janes) 5:24

5. Hermeto’s Fado for Maria (H. Pascoal) 5:43

6. E Se Nâo for Fado (F. Hilme / T. Torres da Silva) 4:31

7. Dança Do Amor (M. J. Mendes) 6:58

8. Quando Eu Era Pequenina (Tradicional) 8:07

9. Meu Pobre Capitão (M. J. Mendes / J. Beasley) 5:33


Maria Mendes: vocals

Jasper Somsen: double bass

Cédric Hanriot: piano and keyboards

Mário Costa: drums

Metropole Orkest

Conductor, KeyWi, keyboards: John Beasley

1st violin: Vera Laporeva, Jasper van Rosmalen, Sarah Koch, Pauline Terlouw, Christina Knoll, Saskia Frijns

2nd violin: Herman van Haaren, Willem Kok, Ruben Margarita, Robert Baba, Xaquín Carro Cribeiro, Leonnid Nikishin

Viola: Norman Jansen, Mieke Honingh, Iris Schut, Isabella Petersen

Cello: Joel Siepmann, Emile Visser, Annie Tångberg, Jascha Albracht

Flute: Mariël van den Bos, Janine Abbas

Oboe/cor anglais: Maxime Le Minter

Clarinets: Christof May, Max Boeree

French horn: Pieter Hunfeld

Recorded live May 11 & 12, 2022, at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ Amsterdam and at Parkstad Limburg Theaters Heerlen, the Netherlands, and on May 2022, at Slow Music Studios in Lisbon, Portugal

FOH, recording engineer: Chris Weeda

Microphone technicians: Vince van Seggelen, Tom de Haas (Da Capo)

Metropole Orkest’s producer: Gert-Jan Blom

Sound engineer: Udo Pannekeet (NL) and Nuno Simões (PT).

Mixed and mastered by David Kowalski, New York, USA in May-June 2022.

Produced by John Beasley

Arranged by John Beasley and Maria Mendes


A collaboration between vocalist Maria Mendes and the Netherlands’ Metropole Orkest with pianist/composer John Beasley, 2022’s Saudade, Colour of Love is a gorgeous Brazilian-inspired jazz production. Born in Portugal and based in the Netherlands for over a decade, Mendes brings a worldly sophistication to her vocal jazz. It was that sophistication that garnered her and Beasley a Latin Grammy nomination for their previous collaboration, 2019’s Close to Me. Saudade, Colour of Love is very much a spiritual companion piece to its predecessor as Mendes and Beasley deftly weave together Portuguese fado, bossa nova, and expansive symphonic jazz arrangements. Vocally, Mendes has a pitch-perfect style, marked by a warm resonance, bright articulation, and endless lyricism that she punctuates with forays into improvisational vocalese. Tracks like the opening “Com Que Voz” and “Tudo Isto E Fado” have the lush, swinging warmth of Frank Sinatra’s 1960s albums with arranger Nelson Riddle. But whereas Sinatra would sink into a song with his light baritone, Mendes soars, lilting birdlike over a verse before rising skyward with a tremulous accent. It’s a style she fully embraces on the kinetic Latin number “Verdes Anos,” diving and fluttering with falsetto vocalese improvisations against a shimmering piano and the orchestra’s vibrating strings. Elsewhere, we get the fusion-esque “Quando Eu Era Pequenina” with its muted, alien horn lines and the equally infectious Tropicalia-sounding “Meu Pobre Capitão,” both of which evoke the vibrant, stylistically cross-pollinated ’70s work of artists like Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa.

Matt Collar (AllMusic)