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Digging Deeper: An interview with Minas

For this edition in our Digging Deeper series we had the pleasure of speaking with Patricia and Orlando Haddad of the recording duo, Minas. Their 1983 album, 'Num Dia Azul' is a sublime slice of private press bossa nova meets jazzy MPB perfection. It reflects the great music coming out of Rio at the time, yet 'Num Dia Azul' wasn't recorded in Rio, but actually in the USA.

Recorded in North Carolina just after Patricia and Orlando Haddad had graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts, the record was only released for the Brazilian market on their own Blueazul Records imprint. As with most private press labels, they could only afford to have it pressed in small quantities. They say cream always rises to the top, and fast forward to the 2010s, the word amongst collectors and DJs was spreading about this mythical under-the-radar recording. People from across the globe were contacting Patricia and Orlando for more information, hoping to secure themselves a copy. Luckily the original tapes had remained with the artists and were in great condition, so in 2016 the pair ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to have it remastered and repressed. Now, it is Mr Bongo's slice of good fortune to have the privilege of releasing a pressing of this wonderful album. It also gave us the opportunity to have this chat with Patricia and Orlando and dig deeper into the story of 'Num Dia Azul'. 

What was your musical background before recording 'Num Dia Azul’?

Patricia: I grew up singing and performing in Musical Theatre in the US since I was 7 years old. I was also playing piano and writing songs then. As a teenager I became drawn to Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 and Bossa Nova, blues and jazz, and listened more to those styles than rock.

Orlando: I grew up in Brazil listening to whatever music my brother Rui, who was 3 years older, was listening to. He loved Bossa Nova and Bossa Nova was the new music of Brazil at the time - early 60s. He also came home one day with a Beatles record, and I was totally mesmerised. My mother was a piano teacher and I was exposed to classical music. I later moved to Rio de Janeiro where I studied Classical Guitar, and heard the music of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Os Mutantes, and Milton Nascimento, having the opportunity to attend their concerts in small venues. 

How did you two meet?

Patricia: Orlando and I were both studying at North Carolina School of the Arts. I was a vocal major but more interested in playing jazz piano and writing music. When I heard there was a Brazilian musician on campus, I approached Orlando to ask him to help me write Portuguese lyrics to a Brazilian song that I was composing. That song ('Num Dia Azul') became the title track for the 'Num Dia Azul' album.

Which Brazilian artists were you listening to whilst recording the album?

Patricia: Hermeto Pascoal, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, Sergio Mendes, Bossa Tres, Milton Nascimento, Manfredo Fest, Zimbo Trio, Elis Regina, Egberto Gismonti, Eumir Deodato.

Orlando: All of the above, plus Stravinski, Bartok, Bach and Beethoven

Do you have a few favourite Brazilian albums?

Both: Brazil 66 - 'Fool on a Hill' and 'Crystal Illusions';  Flora Purim - 'Stories to Tell';  Joyce - 'Feminina'; Gilbert Gil - 'Quanta'; Milton Nascimento - 'Clube Da Esquina';  Djavan - 'Bird of Paradise'; Rosa Passos - 'Festa'; Return to Forever - 'Light as a Feather'.
Where and when was the album recorded?

'Num Dia Azul' was recorded in Greensboro, NC, USA in 1981. A second session was added in 1982.

Were the other musicians on the record also studying at North Carolina School Of the Arts, or were they session musicians?

Musicians from the area who had studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and Kofi Burbridge from NCSA. Drummer Manuel Monteiro from Brasil, had studied with Edson Machado, from Bossa Tres Trio. 

Though the album was recorded in the US, it was only released in Brazil, how did this come about?

We had arrived at a decision to move to Brasil for a few years after we had our first child. We wanted to be with Orlando’s family for a while and soak up the music in Brasil. While living there, we decided to manufacture 'Num Dia Azul' there. Pianist Antonio Adolfo was the first to release an album outside of an established label. He formed an association of independent record producers and the association, shared the knowhow with artists who wanted to release their own independent albums. We followed suit. There was a poster, which we still have, of the first catalogue released by the association, of which Joyce and Chico Lessa were a part of.
How many copies did you originally press? 


What was the reception to the album upon its release?

Orlando: The reception was very positive. We did a release in my hometown of Lavras, state of Minas Gerais, in 1983; we rented the movie theatre for the night and performed the album live in front of 500 or so people. From there we arranged a release in the state capital of Minas (origin of the name Minas), a city of 3 million inhabitants, called Belo Horizonte. We did the release on a Friday and Saturday at a prestigious jazz club called Tom Chopim (a pun on the name of Tom Jobim and the word for draft beer, chope), which received excellent coverage on the local media. We proceeded then to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, taking our album to all the important record stores for distribution.

Patricia: We played one release concert of the album before we decided to move back to the USA. People loved the compositions - 'Samba Walk' was always a big hit, which we would extend with a big Brazilian Batucada drumming when playing live. We shortly became caught up with moving to Philadelphia, settling in with our young child and were more focused on getting gigs for income, than the album. The Americans really enjoyed the 'Num Dia Azul' repertoire and we sold some albums and lots of cassettes at the gigs. But we had a lot on our plates and didn’t pursue releasing with a record company, etc. 

Did you perform the album live?

Yes, see above. Later in 2016, when we released the re-issue, we performed the entire album at a venue called World Cafe Live, in Philadelphia. By the time we produced  the 2nd release, we had recorded 5 more albums - 'Dreams of Brazil', 'Blue Azul', 'In Rio', 'Bossa Nova Day' and 'Symphony in Bossa'.

Who designed the cover art? 

Orlando: Rique and Dulce Bittencourt, from an ad agency named “Ao Lápis Studio”, in Rio.
We read that a lot of the original copies sadly got damaged in a fire, what happened? 

Patricia: We couldn't take all our albums with us when we moved back to the States so most of them were left behind in Orlando’s mother’s house. We thought maybe we would retrieve them on another trip. A year later, Orlando’s mother came for a visit here in Philadelphia, and on the night that she was flying back to her home in Brasil, we got a call that her house had burned down - everything was lost! Although their family parrot survived because a water main broke above its cage and kept him alive. Apparently everyone in town watched the house burn down and at the end, someone ran out with the parrot on his arm. But no more albums!



How did you feel years later, when you realised 'Num Dia Azul' was a sought-after album for DJs and record collectors? 

Totally surprised! We had some vinyls sitting in our basement, thinking it was a done project, when some of our workers came across them and told us that we needed to re-release 'Num Dia Azul'. We had been so involved with recording other albums those years, raising a family, and making a living on performing, so the project had totally escaped our minds. But these young workers really loved the project - Engineer, Brendan McGeehan took the tapes from the damp basement and had to have them baked to be restored. He then helped us mix the project again. As we got involved with promoting it, we started coming across all the people who were interested in collecting it! The original 1983 edition has been sold on Discogs for US$600.

Thanks to Patricia and Orlando for taking the time to answer our questions, and of course, for the fantastic music! 'Num Dia Azul' is released on Mr Bongo on 20th October (Vinyl LP and CD). Pre-order HERE.