Jazz Times Magazine

Five years have passed since Bay Area vocalist Masha Campagne made her recording debut, forging a simpatico alliance with pianist and arranger Weber Iago and emerging as one of the most surprising Brazilian stylists to ever navigate the Jobim and Caymmi songbooks.  Surprising, that is, because Campagne is Russian by birth yet sounded straight from Ipanema, blending the wistfulness of Astrud Gilberto with the robust liquidity of Flora Purim.

A half-decade later, the sun-dappled voice is slightly richer, the bossa sensibility still predominant. While the masterful Iago is again onboard and remains the driving force, Campagne has widened her musical circle, adding Brazilian guitarist Guinga and German vibraphonist and harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens.

Jobim is represented by a shimmering “Outra Vez”; Carlos Lyra’s ‘Se E Tarde Me Perdoa” is provided an appropriately peppy reading; and “invitation, “ though taken at a sprightlier pace that usual, fully retains its inscrutability. Among seven original compositions, four come from Campagne, with varying results. “My Hear Was Lost & Found for You” is pedestrian romantic fare, “Mystery Unwrapped” a rather clunky ode to self-actualization, and “Broke But Rich’ a bizarre yet compelling pastiche that seems a crooked roadmap toward purity of soul. Best is the sweet, contented title track.

Guinga contributes the playfully meandering “No Fundo do Rio” and achingly gorgeous “Exasperada.” But top marks are reserved for Iago, whose, dense, undulating “I Can See You Now” proves a deeply affecting closer.

Latin Jazz Network

Masha Campagne has taken a giant leap on the road to establishing herself as a pre-eminent singer with a penchant for sensuous vocalastics with her sophomore record, Like Water, Like Air.

While she may sound like the eternal onlooker in the narratives and while she may not be an interpretive type of vocalists in the vein of that other West-Coast chanteuse of considerable repute, Laurie Antonioli, Campagne’s sensational vocals on this record are informed by naturally delicate, come-hither intonations and dreamy sensuality. Perhaps this is why she takes to the beautiful, almost tortured sighs of Brazilian music like the proverbial duck to water. But that is not all; even in English, Campagne is not just superior to most of her contemporaries, but of the singular manner in which she approaches the accentuation and dramaturgy of her lines, she is quite incomparable.

The singer can make her voice take extraordinary leaps. In doing this she sings her lines in long loping lines that feature dramatic elevations as they inhabit almost impossible planes with as she surprises many of her accompanists. The sassy, decidedly airy samba, “No Fundo Do Rio” she not only makes a carioca of herself, but makes tantalizing leaps mesmerizing the bass clarinet of the magnificent Harvey Wainapel. And then she has this hypnotic conversation with the song’s composer, Guinga, which makes the great musician guitarist and respond with blushing harmonies. Campagne repeats these remarkable feats once again when she flutters her lips, so to speak, alongside Guinga’s guitar on the intensely colored “Exasperada”.

With vocals like these, Masha Campagne is a natural fit for amorous ballads. She does not disappoint on Bronislav Kaper’s classic “Invitation,” which, although she appears to rush slightly, she does pull off with the touch of a gentle lover. On her own “My Heart Was Lost & I Found You” Campagne finds her timing and turns this passionate affair into one that is truly memorable. The singer is right on the money once again with another one of her compositions, “Like Water, Like Air,” which she has written, appropriately, as a swaggering samba. On “Mystery Unwrapped” Campagne, turns being an interloper into a mighty gem of a song. Not only is the music subtle and beautiful, but her lyrics are well-crafted here. And it is this kind of expertise, in addition to her magnetism as a vocalist, which has attracted some of the finest musicians on their instruments to her cause.

While Weber Iago may have been a shoe-in this time as well, being her long-time musical partner and producer; having the maestro Guinga, and the most magnificent harmonica and vibraphone player, Hendrik Meurkens as well as the ubiquitous (at least on anything Brazilian on the US West Coast) saxophonist and bass clarinettist, Harvey Wainapel would be akin to a master-stroke. Although her producing partner might require some kudos for pulling this off, ultimately it is how well she has stood up to the reputations of these musical giants says much for the vocalist’s own stature. And more than anything else, the arrangements are brilliant and this is also where Campagne shines. It would be remiss to write a critique of this record without mentioning Campagne’s bassist on this record as well: Dan Robbins as wondrous colours to the music on this CD and part of the reason it is so memorable is due to his extraordinary turn out as well as that of the incomparable pianist and producer, Weber Iago.

Yahoo! Voices Cafe Jazz

Introduced to jazz music and bossa nova templates by her grandfather, Moscow-born singer-songwriter Masha Campagne continues along the path carved out by her family and immerses herself into singing for both spectrums, the dulcet melodies of smooth jazz and the sultry sway of bossa nova. Her new CD Like Water, Like Air from Impetus Records has an earthy texture reflective of Jane Monheit beaded in the bluesy swing facets reminiscent of vintage Nancy Wilson. The low tide of the ballads on the album carry Campagne's vocals into striking arias garnering her reputation as an ideal vocalist for jazz repertoires. Produced by Campagne and her keyboardist Weber Iago, Like Water, Like Air stimulates the finer sensations in listeners.

The sleek jazz-clad phrasing of "It Could Happen to You" kindles a contemporary glint bridled in Campagne's graceful and melodious voicing. The commanding swagger of her vocals show she is a perfect fit for café jazz as she moves in sync with the bossa nova climes of "Outra Vez" intermittently swath in Hendrik Meurkens tuneful harmonica curls. The soul-inspired grooves of "Broke but Rich" are scalloped in trimmings of Meurkens glistening vibraphone doodles which shift to a laid-back, recreational vibration in "Invitation." The Brazilian-tinged décor of "No Fundo Do Rio" accent Campagne's vocals beautifully fanning a café jazz ambience in "My Heart Was Lost and Found for You."

The silky tresses of "Exasperada" move with Campagne's intake and exhalation of breath courting a lover's interlude in the title track and basting a bluesy rhapsody in the melodic passages. The sedate sonorous of the keys ruminating along "I Can See You Now" tinder a gentle glow contouring Campagne's vocals and stoke a frolicking syncopation coursing through "Se E Tarde Me Perdoa" that is brimming with Latin flavors. She is a natural when it comes to singing in a Spanish dialect and moves in time with the Latin rhythms as though she was weaned on the music; and in essence, she was from her grandfather.

As a vocalist, songwriter and producer, Masha Campagne has a triple talent with total command of the jazz language. Like Water, Like Air is her second solo recording with keyboardist/producer Weber Iago in the wake of her 2007 release Caminhos Cruzados=Crossroads. The graceful stride of her vocals combined with the expressive phrasing of the jazz-flared movements and Brazilian rhythms are a fine fit for café jazz, and Masha Campagne delivers it beautifully. She is a contemporary of jazz vocalists such as Nancy Wilson and Ella Fitzgerald progressing smooth jazz into its next stage and making it relevant to today's audiences and adapting to modern lifestyles.

San Jose Mercury News

Russian-born, San Francisco-based vocalist Masha Campagne returns with another superb album. Due for releaseon Tuesday, "Like Water, Like Air," again teams Campagne with elegant pianist/producer Weber Iago. They've assembled some of the area's top jazz players. The title track is one of three that features renowned German harmonica/vibraphone artist Hendrik Meurkens. Guitarist/songwriter Guinga plays on a couple of tunes. Throughout, Campagne's vocals display a rare combination of sophistication and sincerity. The album closes sublimely on Iago's "I Can See You Now," an unadorned gem, relying only on the beauty of his keyboard mastery and Campagne's endlessly evocative voice.

Amazon.com

It’s been over five years since Masha Campagne released her genre-bending 2007 debut Caminhos Cruzados that introduced us to her warm, charismatic jazz vocals which are full of panache. Now, the sweet-toned chanteuse who is based in San Francisco (since relocating there from Russia in 1991) is set to thrill easy-listening audiences with her sophomore project, Like Water, Like Air.

The title cut emphasizes the organic and sensuous nature of her alluring music, just as she sings about her lover’s “sweet honey to my mouth” and “dew that wets the flower” and “the Earth that’s safely turning.” Like her first album, she still draws on Jobim’s canon, in this case with a charming rendition of “Outra Vez” rendered with Hendrik Meurkens’ enchanting chromatic harmonica. He also plays that instrument on the title cut, as well as vibes on two others.

On Campagne’s debut album, she offered two pieces by guitarist Guinga. With the same approach to success, Like Water, Like Air features Guinga on two additional self-penned compositions, “No Fundo Do Rio” and “Exasperada.” The former is a lean arrangement albeit full of fun sounds from Harvey Wainapel’s bass clarinet and Guello’s percussion. The latter is a slower melancholy number, exotic and sad that tests the singer’s range, with only guitar backing. While Campagne’s voice may not be as big as Elis Regina’s or Gal Costa’s, it’s sincere and enchanting with both a jazzy and romantic side.

Campagne’s recorded music also continues to prominently feature Rio-raised pianist/arranger/producer Weber Iago, who wrote the closing cut, “I Can See You Now,” on this hour-long project. It’s tastefully played and sung in masterful fashion. That song’s message is about optimistically “searching for a path,” and I’d suggest that the road should lead you to Ms. Campagne’s music. Of special note on the new release are Campagne’s four originals (“Broke but Rich,” “My Heart Was Lost and Found for You,” “Like Water, Like Air,” and “Mystery Unwrapped”). Full of variety in tempo and moods, the songs are well-arranged, adventurous and tuneful. Wainapel only includes his saxophone’s groove on one track (“Se E Tarde Me Perdoa”), and I was left wondering (only slightly) if a little more of that instrument might have created sounds as explosive as when Astrud Gilberto collaborated with Stan Getz in the '60s.

With Like Water, Like Air, the talented and enthralling Masha Campagne has released vulnerable music on an outstanding album to savor. It’s a captivating set that emphasizes impressive musicianship with vision, creativity, and class.

allaboutjazz.com

Vocalist Masha Campagne may hail from Moscow and live in San Francisco, but she's a Brazilian at heart. Campagne, who first encountered jazz through her musical grandfather's record collection and performances, left her native land and settled in the Bay Area in the early '90s. She took in all of the aural wonders of the area, performing, teaching and absorbing music, and eventually gained some well-deserved recognition, winning a Downbeat Student Music Award. This opened some doors, leading to important performing opportunities at high-profile places like Yoshi's and the Monterey Jazz Festival, but her name didn't really reach beyond this locale until she released Caminhos Cruzados-Crossroads (Impetus, 2007).

That intriguing debut paired Campagne with pianist Weber Iago, who served as a stellar artistic sounding board and accompanist, and this team reunites for her sophomore date. The Brazilian music-plus-a-standard-or-two formula that worked the first time around is utilized again, but the end result is markedly different. This album has a greater textural and timbral spread than its predecessor, spotlights Campagne as a composer in a few places, and features the inimitable harmonica/vibraphone ace Hendrik Meurkens and guitarist/composer Guinga. Meurkens' harmonica, while scarce, brings a breezy uplift to the music ("Outra Vez") and his vibraphone fills out the sound of the ensemble. Guinga proves to be a sensitive and tasteful accompanist ("Exasperada").

Sultry pop-jazz, bouncy samba-esque music, intimate encounters and swinging fare cross paths during this eleven song program. Campagne sings over guitar, bass clarinet and cuica ("No Fundo Do Rio"), floats atop a warm background of Fender Rhodes and vibraphone ("Mystery Unwrapped"), trims things back to piano and voice ("I Can See You Now"), and produces some high energy music with a solid band behind her ("Se E Tarde Me Perdoa"). Her Portuguese and English are equally intoxicating and, while her Russian roots audibly surface on occasion, the slight accent actually adds depth and breadth to her artistry.

Female vocalists working the Brazilian-jazz seam aren't exactly a rarity these days, but Campagne manages to stand apart from the pack with her own broad-viewed take on this theme.

Critical Jazz

More than just another pretty face, Masha Campagne is a vocalist of immense talent that is now living the American dream via the former old Soviet Union. Campagne left Moscow in 1991 arriving in the Bay area literally penniless and began working the local jazz scene playing the club circuit and working as a voice teacher and jazz educator. On Nov. 6th 2012, Campagne is set to release her sophomore effort Like Water, Like Air where she again collaborates with pianist Weber Iago and with a special appearance by German harmonica and vibe master Hendrik Meurkens who adds a great deal of texture and color to a release that is a most ambitious collection of standards and draws from her personal European classical tradition as well. Guitar great Guinga also makes a cameo and contributes two compositions to the offering here. "It Could Happen To You" is arranged into a smoldering hook filled groove backed by a rhythm section that can change dynamics on the fly, Campagne and Iago's chemistry is undeniable. The Guinga tune "No Fundo Do Rio" is a bright and breezy samba perfectly suited for Campagne vocal approach and the second tune "Exasperada" would be considered a more intense portrayal of love in an ever changing world. Iago culminates the release with "I Can See You Now" which is an introspective yet emotionally expansive piece allowing Campagne's range to shine through. The originals from Campagne are bold and vibrant as well as airy and seductive. A delightful ebb and flow combined with a literal all-star cast make this one of the surprise vocal releases of the year. Like Water, Like Air works well thanks to Campagne's artistry and vocal ability to transcend genres with ease and grace. There is a tightly clustered pack of female singers in the jazz idiom. I say singer because Campagne is a vocalist of immeasurable talent - that is the difference between singer and vocalist. Not all pretty girls can sing, god made cruise ships, church choirs, and karaoke night for a reason. Masha Campagne is an artist.