As jazz fans know, Brazilian music and bossa nova tunes are frequently present on jazz albums, playlists, and jazz bars, and Japan’s live scene is no exception. Naturally, Japanese jazz musicians and groups who specialize in Latin genres can also be found in Japan.

One such group is Meu Coração (“my heart” in Portuguese), the creation of Emiko Voice and Taro Sukegawa. The pair delivers impeccable and sweet Brazilian music through perfectly matched voice and guitar. Their 2009 debut album Hall Tone features one hour of Brazilian music through bossa nova, samba, choro, and the like. The simple combination of acoustic guitar and voice brings into relief the strength of the music and atmosphere, and the Portuguese lyrics deliver hints of love songs and bittersweet tales.

As suggested by the album title, the natural reverb of a concert hall is a featured quality on this album. The music was recorded at a single source in a large hall to capture the raw sound and reverb of instruments in that space. The power of two musicians making honest, unadorned music rings true here and showcases the strength of the selections and the musicians’ affinity and skill. The pair masters their shared role in shaping and spicing up the music through strumming and plucking of strings and vocal accents to enhance the pulse and movement of the music.

While jazz fans are no doubt familiar with oft-covered tunes such as “Girl from Ipanema”, “Corcovado” and such, much of the music on this collection may be unfamiliar to non-specialists, but no less impressive. Even as Jobim songs are always cozy and welcoming, I found myself returning to the songs on this recording which I hadn’t heard before, pleased to be expanding my horizons. Fans of the inimitable Antônio Carlos Jobim will also eager to hear the duo’s follow-up album Hall Tone 2 from 2012, dedicated to Jobim’s music.

It’s also worth mentioning that since the 2009 debut of Hall Tone, Meu Coracao has also been performing unplugged, natural sound shows for more than seven years at sold-out concert halls in Tokyo.

Hall Tone by Meu Coracao

Released in 2009 on Coo Records as COO-300.

Japanese Names: EMiKO VOiCE エミコヴォイス Taro Sukegawa 助川太郎

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Jul 5, 2021