razilian jazz singer/guitarist Norma Blase’s intimate vocals, in English and Portuguese, lend themselves to evocative melodies, subtle rhythms, and vibrant harmony. Her expressive voice is alternately pure and suggestively sultry. Norma improvises percussively over the changes, and she mimics instruments and sounds of nature, but above all, she cares about the melody and the lyric, about telling the story of the song. A charismatic performer, she engages her audience. Her listener is invited to a languid dance in a tropical landscape.

Originally inspired by the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, and Luiz Bonfá, and the lyrics of Vinícius de Moraes, her influences have grown to include a wide and diverse group of musicians. These include singers Monica Salmaso and Leila Pinheiro, singer/percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, singer/guitarist/composers Baden Powell, Dori Caymmi, Rosa Passos, Toninho Horta, and Guinga, guitarist/composers Egberto Gismonti and Paulo Bellinati, and legendary multi-instrumentalist/composer Hermeto Pascoal. She has studied with contemporary Brazilian artists Jovino Santos Neto, Carlos Oliveira, Marcos Silva, and Guinga, among others. She has sat in as a guest vocalist with Brazilian legend Walter Wanderley, with bossa nova originator and tamba inventor Helcio Milito, with the New York trio of Cidinho Teixeira, Sergio Brandão and Paulo Braga, and with Hermeto Pascoal in a workshop at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

Norma’s early jazz influences include Oscar Brown, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin, and have embraced many others since that time. More recent influences include Norma Winstone and Kurt Elling. She has studied with jazz vocal legends Mark Murphy, Rebecca Parris, and Sheila Jordan. She has been privileged to have Mark Murphy sit in with her.

Norma’s debut album,
Flower of Bahia, is being released in 2005, on her own 2CanJazz label. Besides her vocals and background vocals, it features the debut duo recording of Brazilian guitar masters Carlos Oliveira and Aliéksey Viana, displaying exquisite artistry and a magical interplay. Inspired contributions from Sheldon Brown on clarinet, Michael Spiro on percussion, and Adriano Faquini on background vocals, complete the mix, and create an overall effect that is both lush and spacious. Featured songs include lesser known Jobim gems “Correnteza” and “Double Rainbow,” Passos’ “Verão,” Caymmi’s “Flower of Bahia/Flor da Bahia,” Gismonti’s “Café,” Bonfá’s “Morning of the Carnival,” and Horta’s “Mountain Flight.”

Norma performs as a solo singer-guitarist and in a duo to small combo format, primarily in the greater Bay Area, where she lives, and also in the greater New York City Area, of which she is a native. She is planning to tour nationally and internationally to support the release of
Flower of Bahia. She is available to clubs, festivals, private parties, house concerts, and community and corporate events.