A devoted fan of Brazilian bossa nova, Brazilian-born Japanese singer and guitarist Lisa Ono is a remarkably skilled interpreter of modern, MPB-flavored bossa nova. Her style and voice rival that of Brazilian divas such as Gal Costa and Joyce, while her delivery and tone are exquisite. Unfortunately, Ono's music is pretty hard to track down outside of Japan, and pretty expensive when you do find them (hence, the dearth of reviews on my impoverished website...) Nonetheless, here's a quick look at her discography, with reviews of the few records I've heard so far... Fans of Gal Costa or Joyce owe it to themselves to try and track down at least one of Ono's albums... she really is quite good!
Lisa Ono "Catupiry" (MIDI, 1989)
Lisa Ono "Na Na" (MIDI, 1990)
Lisa Ono "Menina" (Sony, 1991)
(Produced by Kazuo Yoshida & Lisa Ono)
A perky, pleasant, but sort of frothy take on the classic Brazilian bossa nova sound, with orchestrations that range from big-band lite to florid, late-period bossa... This album was recorded in Rio de Janeiro along with the help of many of Brazil's best jazz players, including luminaries such as Paulo Braga, J. T. Meirelles, Zeca Assumpcao. and others. What's most remarkable about this record is how perfect Ono's Brazilian accent is -- even when she sings in English, she tilts towards the South American emphases, rather than the Asian. About half the songs are Ono originals (with lyrics by Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, Helio Celso Suarez and others...) Some of her musical choices flirt with overripeness, but on the whole this is classy and elegant... Perhaps too much so, for some people, but if you can stand (or enjoy) swanky, rich arrangements, then this is a pretty nice disc, with lovely vocals. Jobim would be proud.
Lisa Ono "Serenata Carioca" (BMG/RCA, 1992)
Lisa Ono "Namorata" (BMG/RCA, 1993)
Lisa Ono "Esperanca" (BMG/RCA, 1994)
A less exciting album by this Japanese bossa star. It kicks off with a fun samba track, "Samba De Enredo," co-written with Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, a song that sounds for all the world like an old Clara Nunes single, the rest of the album swiftly devolves into more standard, and less Brazilian-sounding, fare. Although a slew of heavyweight Brazilians play on this album -- Zeca Assumpcao, Danilo Caymmi, Raul De Souza, Tutty Moreno, Jacques and Edu Morelenbaum, to name a few -- the album as a whole has a been-there, done-that Latin Jazz feel to it. Good for the style, but a little clattersome and busy for my tastes.
Lisa Ono "Minha Saudade" (BMG/RCA, 1995)
Lisa Ono "Rio Bossa" (BMG/RCA, 1996)
Lisa Ono "Essencia" (Toshiba-EMI, 1997)
Lisa Ono "Bossa Carioca" (Toshiba-EMI, 1998)
Lisa Ono "Dream" (Toshiba-EMI, 1999)
Lisa Ono "Pretty World" (Toshiba-EMI, 2000)
Lisa Ono "Boas Festas" (Toshiba-EMI, 2000)
Lisa Ono "Bossa Hula Nova" (Toshiba-EMI, 2001)
Ono goes Hawaiian...!
Lisa Ono "Dans Mon Ile" (Deckdisc, 2004)
Ono gets French...!
Lisa Ono "Naima" (EMI-Japan, 2004)
Ono explores Africa...!
Lisa Ono "Quiesta Bossa Mia" (EMI-Japan, 2004)
Not only that, but she sings in Italian, as well..!
Lisa Ono "Boas Festas 2: Feliz Natal" (Toshiba-EMI, 2004)
It's a Christmas record...!
Lisa Ono "O Melhor De Lisa Ono" (MIDI)
Lisa Ono "Colecao - The Collection" (MIDI, 2000)
Lisa Ono "Amigos" (BMG/RCA)
Lisa Ono "Selecao" (BMG/RCA, 1996)
Lisa Ono "Best: 1989-1996" (EMI-Japan, 2008)
Lisa Ono "Best Of: 1997-2001" (Virgin-EMI, 2004)
Lisa Ono "Best: 2002-2006" (EMI-Japan, 2008)
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