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Mario Costa: Clipping

Review by Harvey Barkan on L.A. Jazz Scene monthly newspaper


Total Unknown

         Brazilian singer-songwriter, keyboardist Mario Costa is just now releasing his first CD, Total Unknown. An original sound hard to label, it seems almost like a new genus, a Brazilian jazz influenced pop album. Born in Rio de Janeiro where his interests and musical training and skills matured, He moved to the U.S. to attend the Grove School of Music for further background and development. Although he has formed Brazilian music groups and continues to play, write and arrange for a number of artists in Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles, this is Costa’s first personal CD effort upfront as a featured Brazilian artist, hence the album title, Total Unknown.

         This is most certainly a unique and interesting effort. All tunes and lyrics were composed by Costa, selecting 17 used from 57 he amazingly wrote in just one month! Quite a feat in itself. Each was originated almost extemporaneously on a personal handheld recorder, in a continuous stream of creative thought until completed, one at a time. Costa does all the vocals on the CD in a soft, almost whispery voice, while supported by hard-driving rhythms, and enthusiastic non-traditional instrumental use and arrangements, at least for many U.S. listeners. Of course, this is a very heavily flavored Brazilian original music, with it’s sound appreciated by a growing Southern California listener and fan base, stretching their “listening muscles” and enjoying new sounds and rhythms.

         Musicians were Mario Costa, vocals, trombone and tuba samples, keyboard; Renato Neto, current keyboardist for Prince, formerly with Diane Reeves; Ricardo Silveira, guitar; Philippe Balatier and Newton Cardoso, keyboard; Scott Breadman, percussionist for Jose Feliciano, Antonio Sant’anna and Fabio Girao, bass; Delia Fischer, piano; Grecco Buratto, acoustic and electric guitarist for K.D. Lang, Pink, and now touirng with Shakira, and Pedro Mibielli, violin. Recording generally included four to six musicians for each tune, all listed here participated. Portions of this CD were recorded in several locations and later combined to assemble this CD. Vocals were recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; instruments recorded variously in Los Angeles, Eagle Rock, and Northridge, California; also Cannes, France, and musicians home studios in three continents! It all sounds rather challenging and complex to this traditionalist! Since all 17 songs are new, original, and not yet well-known, it was thought including titles wouldn’t be meaningful here, but listening to this 55 minute CD may change that for you, if you can open up to it as a new different sound.

         Total Unknown comes together as an impressive, perhaps avant-garde, Brazilian frontier that will no doubt add to the growing excitement to be found in Brazilian music concepts by fans from Rio de Janeiro to Southern Califórnia and elsewhere. The Brazilian music movement seems to know how to bring innovation with excitement to their efforts.

         Mario Costa’s Total Unknown CD can be heard and purchased from and also available as a digital download there and other popular sites, including and

Harvey Barkan - L.A. Jazz Scene (May 1, 2011)

Mario Costa
Total Unknown
By George W. Harris

Brazilian singer/songwriter Mario Costa has put together an ambitions disc here, mixing traditional samba sounds with a fresher than fresh Gen-Y approach to sounds and instruments. Loops, samples and various keyboard experiments pair up with guitars, strings, brass and drums on exciting tunes like “Futura Menina Andina” and “Avida Em Sete.” Costa’s voice is enthusiastic and confidant, delivering the lyrics in various languages and styles. Poppish without sounding too trendy, this guy has enough moxie to keep you coming back for more.