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Victor Jones - East Bounce - Ryo Kawasaki - Richard Tee - Camila Benson - Kimiko Itoh - Miki Kono - Carolling Carollers
Guitarist, singer, composer, and worldwide wandered, Camila Benson was born in Mato Grosso, Brazil.|
Her parents were established farmers who owned an enormous homestead near the Amazon jungle. At the age of four, Camila began singing, playing guitar, and studying Brazilian folklore. At the same time, she became intrigued by the circus, particularly one that often visited a nearby town. While these circus musicians played Brazilian folk songs, Camila found herself most interested in the trapeze show.
At the age of nine, Camila started playing the violin, accordion, and even the organ at her church. By age twelve, she added tenor saxophone to her repertoire, and by fifteen, the trombone. However, all the while, the trapeze still held a special place in her heart, and soon after, she joined the circus. She excelled as a member of the trapeze team, and found herself a circus star. While traveling all over South America, she also had the opportunity to hear many types of music, her favorite being Brazilian Bahia.
The majority of Camila's gigs were located at the hotel lounges of large chains such as Hilton, Sheraton, and Intercontinental. She usually sang solo, accompanying herself on guitar. Occasionally, she would play accordion or saxophone. She first started touring Central and South America, and then moved on to Spain, Africa, Scandinavia, and Europe. She eventually settled in Paris for nine years, whie continuing to travel around Italy and the Middle Eastern countries.
During those traveling days, Camila had the opportunity to master several languages. Today she speaks five fluently -- English, Spanish, French, Italian, as well as her native Portuguese. She also finally settled in London, and has lived there as a permanent resident since 1975.
She has also had the opportunity to rub sholders with the best. One night in the mid 1970's, the great Carmen McRae saw Camila perform in Sweden. Carmen liked her style, but thought her name (it was Frances Hall at the time!) was "not happening". In the middle of their conversation, Carmen shouted the name "Camila!" She took Carmen's advice, and has been Camila Benson ever since!
In 1974, Slide Hampton found her in Spain while she was gigging at a jazz club and asked her to joing his big band as a featured singer. The band played to a rousing crowd of 6,000 in Hamburg, Germany. In 1976, another one of Camila's bands in Amsterdam was an opening act for Frank Sinatra.
In 1977, Camila met Ryo Kawasaki at the Ronnie Scott Club in London. He was on a world tour with the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine and her love of jazz guitar often found her seeking out both established and up-and-coming stars. She became an immediate fan and went to meet him backstage. A mutual admiration was formed, especially since Ryo was also into Brazilian, African and other ethnic music. Subsequently, every time they had the opportunity, they jammed together.
In 1993, Camila visited New York, where she was introduced to Ryo's business partner and producer, Kiyoshi Itoh, also a big fan of Brazilian music. That meeting led to the recording of her first release, "Wave", at Ryo's New York studio. It had never been her intention to record, only to be the best Brazilian guitar player she could be. She didn't even consider herself a good enough singer! However, once the project was set in motion, she dedicated herself to choosing the right material, and even went as far as Italy to secure a certain tape from a friend.
Camila's guitar playing is very much influenced by Burden Powell, the Brazilian virtuoso. And while she does not consider herself a jazz guitarist, (but rather a lover of jazz), she admires many of the great jazz guitarists, such as Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Jim Hall, and Charlie Christian. Her other favorite jazz greats are Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, Art Tatum, Thelonius Monk, and Errol Garner.
Camila is a unuque performer -- and accomplished musician with a hearty voice that is very much flavored with the essence of a wanderer. Naturally her repertoire consists of a great deal of Brazilian music, especially Bossa Nova, which she started playing in the 1960's. The first Bosa Nova song she ever heard was "No More Blues" by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The first song she ever performed was "How Insensitive", also by Jobim. She was very much influenced by him inthe 1950's and 60's, but also tried to add her own jazzy originality to the Jobim compositions she performed. Her first release, "Wave", is a testament to Jobim's compostions and her own original interpertations. Her currents release, "Memories", demonstrates a variety of influence, with compositions by Jobim, as well as Bob Marley and Leon Russel.
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