Over the languorous course of 33 years and 16 albums, Michael Franks has mesmerized an international legion of fans with his one-of-a-kind artistry. Seamlessly weaving lyrics of stunning sensuality, wit, reflection and literary eloquence over music that tastefully utilizes top shelf shadings of jazz, soul, pop, chamber and music from around the globe, Michael Franks the songwriter has set a bar in the music world that places him as nothing less than a statesman of song craft. His best known works include “Popsicle Toes,” “Monkey See-Monkey Do,” “The Lady Wants To Know,” “When the Cookie Jar is Empty,” “Tiger in the Rain,” “Rainy Night in Tokyo” and “Tell Me All About It” (covered by artists ranging from Diana Krall and Natalie Cole to Manhattan Transfer and the Carpenters). As if that weren’t enough, Michael Franks the singer is gifted with a gentle, deliciously expressive voice – identifiable from note one.
For his 17th album, Rendezvous in Rio (his first for Koch Records – in stores June 27), Michael Franks sways to a very familiar South American beat. The CD marks a 180-degree shift in scenario and temperature zone from his previous project, the holiday/winter CD Watching the Snow. On Rendezvous, Michael collaborates with old friends/producers Jeff Lorber, Jimmy Haslip (of the fusion band Yellowjackets) and guitarist Chuck Loeb, as well as newer partners engineer/bassist Scott Petito and his touring Musical Director and keyboardist Charles Blenzig.
Blenzig proved literally ‘instrumental’ in the creation of the funky, melodic bossa that became the title track, “Rendezvous in Rio.” “That song was originally an instrumental with a different title from a record that Charles recorded,” Michael shares. “It was more Latin than Brazilian, but that was the first music I sat down and wrote to for this album in September of 2005.”
Brazilian music, culture and vibe have haunted Michael’s work from early on. The country’s renowned composer Antonio Carlos Jobim has been such a significant influence on his writing that Michael has dedicated three songs to him over the years: “Antonio’s Song (The Rainbow),” “Like Water, Like Wind” and “Abandoned Garden.” And for his third album, Sleeping Gypsy (1977), Michael flew down to Rio to record two now-classic compositions: “Down in Brazil” and “B’Wana-He No Home.” Listening to his catalog as well as new songs like “Under the Sun,” one might assume that Michael has journeyed often to the land of the cafe’ au lait cariocas…but he’s only been once.