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Benji & Rita
“a collection of lush, iconoclastic arrangements and distinct vocals that make for a unique marriage. The team combines samba, waltz and pop arrangements by Kaplan (on guitar) with additional lyrics by Figueiredo, that are said to draw on the lyricist and singer’s roots in a country known for its Amazonian jungles and hard scrabble urbanscapes and are sung in Portuguese, so who knows: The music’s charm is in its dramatic delivery and its evocation of Tropicalia.” By Denise Sullivan (Downbeat Magazine)
Instead of small, this ambitious disc goes big with off-kilter and sometimes startling orchestral arrangements by Kaplan. His music is a combination of airy harmonies and complex rhythms featuring flutes and strings that sound like a Latin variation on Debussy. Over this Figueiredo's theatrical and earthy singing make her sound like a Brazilian version of Lotte Lenya singing Kurt Weill as she winds her way through the bumpy melodies of tracks like "San Francisco e brasileiro" and "Piocera." By Jerome Wilsom (All About Jazz)
“The self-titled album Benji & Rita introduces listeners to a fascinating form of Brazilian music that incorporates Brazilian rhythms, contemporary chamber music, jazz and European classical music influences.” By Angel Romero (World Music Central)
”You really can't do better than these two when it comes to current players of this genre.” By Aaron Carnes (East Bay Express)
"Don’t miss Benji & Rita as Brazilian wave hits Bay Area". By Andrew Gilbert (The News Mercury)
"...one of the most lively and magical sessions I’ve heard in 2019...Tunes like “Memorial Day” will hold you spellbound...Rita takes flight over the top with her sweet vocal stories... priceless. By Dick Metcalf (Contemporary Fusion Reviews)
“Fans of classic Brazilian styles will take an instant liking to this. It’s quite an impressive and wide-ranging debut, sporting roots in Brazil and branches in many other places. I hope this twosome stays and plays together for a long time.” By Tom Orr (World Music Central)
“...masterfully conceived and performed. This is a clever new insight into the magic of Brazil.” By Grady Harp (Amazon)
“...cinematic and timeless...gorgeous and nocturnal...equal parts resplendent, indelible and ageless...Benji & Rita are a band to be reckoned with, worth repeated listens.” By Greg Robson (Step inside this house & former Newsday contributor)
Fantastic Landscape: Benji Kaplan and Rita Figueiredo Transfix with Bright, Nuanced Portraits of a Hidden Brazil on Benji & Rita.
“A freewheeling, gorgeously orchestrated whirlwind through the many facets of Brazilian music (samba, baiao, waltzes, pop)...whimsical, deeply romantic sonic images of New York and Brazil by the dynamic husband and wife team of Benji Kaplan (composer, arranger, producer, guitar, vocals) and Brazilian born singer-songwriter Rita Figueiredo.” By Jonathan Widran (Former L.A. Times, Jazziz, Billboard & All Music Guide Journalist)
The classically trained Figueiredo boasts a rich, powerful voice. One can easily image her cast in the comedic role of an opera buffa production. Kaplan writes elaborate arrangements that make use of an array of brass, woodwind, mallet and string instruments.
Benji Kaplan and Rita Figueiredo on Jazz World Quest - Showcase 2019
Benji & Rita's new album featured on WMR
Don’t miss Benji & Rita as Brazilian wave hits Bay Area.
“...the couple uses their unique perspectives to craft an album of original songs that discuss love, music and history...the resulting CD sounds like an intricate and intimate adventure that takes audiences to places in the US and Brazil...audiences should give their work a listen.” By Dodie Miller Gould (Lemon Wire)
“it is impossible to overstate how completely Miss Figueiredo’s poignant lyrics have affected this album. Add to all of this the masterful arrangements of Mr Kaplan that expand the music’s tonal palette enormously and the interiorized performances by a splendid group of musicians and you have the best case for Benji & Rita; a record that sparkles from end to end.” By Raul da Gama (World Music Report)