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Love Is the Key (2021) Jazilian Records


From the pen of award-winning composer/lyricist, singer/pianist and arranger/producer SUE MASKALERIS comes her best material yet, ten catchy Brazilian-jazz and jazz songs, nine with outstanding lyrics, including two collaborations. It is rare for one musician to wear so many hats and so well.

A ticking woodblock “clock” and thunderous left hand piano surdo open the samba ”Procrastination,” which pokes fun at this woeful but common habit. JANIS SIEGEL (The Manhattan Transfer) joins the mayhem, trading scat melodies in the baiāo section. After solos from guitarist WESLEY AMORIM (Alcione) and flutist CECILIA TENCONI, Sue scats a joyful one with the piano. 


The sensuous bossa ballad “Bliss” recalls Ivan Lins while paying homage to Tania Maria on her scatted piano solo; two of Sue’s major influences in Brazilian music. DARMON MEADER (The New York Voices) sweetens the choruses. 


Drummer STEVE WILLIAMS (The Shirley Horn Trio) joins JARED BERNSTEIN, Sue’s first bassist, Economic Adviser to President Biden (Also Economic Adviser Chief under Obama), on the ethereal “Love Will Overflow.” His old schoolmate DOC HALLIDAY smokes a solo on soprano before his poignant offering. The angelic background voices of DARMON MEADER and MINDYE FORTGANG sprinkle more magic. 


LUIZ SIMAS penned the Portuguese verses in “March of the Refugee (Dire)” while translating for too many immigrants in U.S. courts. The “Dire Choir” sings Sue’s urgent lyrics over an afoxê groove. Amorim’s searing guitars shine on this funky throwback to ’80’s Ivan Lins. 


The eternally timely message of the title song “Love Is The Key” is delivered over the percolating Afro-Cuban congas of CHEMBO CORNIEL, with a genre-hopping solo by Grammy-nominated violinist SARA CASWELL. Background singers form Steely Dan-like harmonies.

Eliane Elias inspired Sue’s instrumental written at sea, “Renewal,” featuring strong solos by RODRIGO BOTTER MAIO on soprano sax (recorded in Zurich), LEO TRAVERSA (Ivan Lins, Tania Maria) on 5-string fretless bass and Grammy-winning drummer MAURICIO ZOTTARELLI (recorded in Sāo Paulo). 


“Você Pra Mim” begins dreamily before erupting into a bright samba and baiāo, with Portuguese lyrics by singer SANDY CRESSMAN, English by Sue. LARRY TUTT guests on alto with percussionist NEGAH SANTOS (Jon Batiste’s “Stay Human” band on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”).

Seigel and Meader help celebrate “Valentine’s Day For One,” a witty, topical look at singlehood, full of quote gags and classic one-liners: “Love me Tinder, love me sweet, who’s gonna swipe me off my feet?” Sue rips another fiery scat solo with the piano here. 


An evocative soundscape with Tenconi’s alto flutes is painted on “Summer,” a duet with singer LUIZ SIMAS. Sue unleashes a Ravel-esque solo. 


Halliday’s soprano channels Wayne Shorter on the hypnotic 5/4 “Fly Away.” Upright bassist BRUCE ATKINSON (Richard Marx, Kenny Loggins) adds an R&B layer of voices for trancing out.

There is a lushness to this music, often cushioned with string parts and background singers not found on much of today’s jazz releases. And a pop-like ethos in the writing and arrangements, despite deceptive complexity. All told, this is a multi-faceted and exciting third outing for the uber-talented Sue Maskaleris, where each song outshines the last!

The core band is:

Sue Maskaleris: vocals, piano, keyboards, synth strings

Wesley Amorim: guitars, 7-string guitars 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9
Leo Traversa: bass, 5-string fretless bass 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11

Samuel Martinelli: drums 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11


Janis Siegel, 1; Janis Siegel & Darmon Meader, background vocals 8
Darmon Meader & Mindye Fortgang, 3
Dire Choir: Mindye Fortgang, Devorah Segall, Nancy Ruth, Annie Lebeaux, Eve Zanni, Nelson Riveros, Luiz Simas, John Di Martino 4 John DiMartino, Devorah Segall, Nancy Ruth, Annie Lebeaux, Mindye Fortgang, Luiz Simas: background vocals: 5, 11
Luiz Simas: vocals 9
Ceclia Tenconi: flute, 1, alto flutes, 2, 7, 9 alto sax 8
James “Doc” Halliday: soprano sax 3, 10
Larry Tutt: alto sax: 7, 8 EWI flugelhorn 8, voice: 1
Rodrigo Botter Maio: soprano sax 6
Darmon Meader: soprano sax 8
Brad Baker: clarinet 2
Luis Botter Maio: flugelhorn 6
Sara Caswell: violin 5, 11
Nelson Riveros: guitar 3
Jared Bernstein: upright bass 3
Bruce Atkinson: upright bass & background vocals 10
Steve Williams: drums 3, 10
Mauricio Zottarelli: drums 6
Negah Santos: percussion 1, 7, 9
Chembo Corniel: congas, tambourine 5, 11
Roger Guarino: voice 1

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Bring Nothing But Your Heart (2013) Jazilian Records

A collection of Brazilian and Latin jazz originals (except for a clever remake of Strayhorn's "Lush Life" as a slow samba in 7/4) largely in odd meters, something the Greek-American Sue Maskaleris feels naturally in her bones. Besides arranging, producing, singing, scatting and playing piano/keyboards, Sue adds a few cameos on acoustic and electric violins, Brazilian guitar and 5-string bass.



Sue Maskaleris: vocals, piano, keyboards, electric violin, Brazilian guitar, 5-string bass, percussion. Bass: Mark Egan, Leo Traversa, Sergio Brandão, Rogerio Botter Maio, Sue Maskaleris Drums: Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Terry Silverlight, Vanderlei Pereira, Adriano Santos, Renato Brasa Percussion: Zé Mauricio, Derrik Jordan, Johnny Almendra, Vanderlei Pereira, Sue Maskaleris, Carlos Pereira Nylon-string guitar: Nelson Faria, Sue Maskaleris Piccolo: William Dickerson, Flute: Oriente Lopez, Cecilia Tenconi, William Dickerson Alto flute: Cecilia Tenconi Soprano Sax: Steve Sacks Tenor Sax: James "Doc" Halliday, Cecilia Tenconi, Brad Baker Harmonica: William Galison, Randy Weinstein Trumpet: Albert Leusink Trombone: Sam Burtis Guest Vocal: Luiz Simas Background Singers: Luiz Simas, Ty Stephens, Natalie Venetia Belcon, Dorothy Leigh, Cecilia Tenconi, Annie Lebeaux Spoken lines: Brad Baker, Annie Lebeaux

Unbreakable Heart (2000) Jazilian Records

Sue's debut CD mixes her Brazilian jazz and jazz compositions and features legends Eddie Gomez, Lenny White, Toninho Horta, Michal Urbaniak and Mark Murphy.


"Scat!" placed 2nd worldwide in the Thelonious Monk Composition Competition in 1998. "No, But I Wish..." won the Billboard Song Contest, World Category and "Pajamasamba" was chosen in Jazziz Magazine's "Keyboards On Fire!" Talent Search judged by Dave Brubeck and Bob James that same year. Sue arranged, produced, sang, scatted, and played piano/keyboards plus electric and acoustic violins. 


Sue Maskaleris: vocals, piano, keyboards, electric & acoustic violin, soprano recorder, percussion

Bass: Eddie Gomez, Gregory Jones, Rogerio Botter Maio, Titus Ribas Drums: Lenny White, Vanderlei Pereira, Rodney Holmes Percussion: Valtinho Anastacio, Café, Derrik Jordan, Todd Isler, Vanderlei Pereira Violin: Michal Urbaniak, Sue Maskaleris Guitar: Toninho Horta, Paul Meyers, David Spinozza, Courtney Sappington III Tenor/soprano Sax: Darmon Meader, James “Doc” Halliday Soprano Sax/flute: Rodrigo Botter Maio French horn: Tom Varner Trombone: David Sacks, Andrew Lippman Guest singers: Mark Murphy, Darmon Meader, Philip Brown, Derrik Jordan, Napua Davoy, Mindye Fortgang, Susan Pereira, Terezinha Valois, Luiz Simas, Rogerio Botter Maio, Franya Berkman.

Get Jiggy with Me: jazzified jigs, elegant airs & then some (2006) Jazilian Records

Sue plays all the instruments on this Irish project: keyboards, violins, recorder, guitar, bass, percussion and sings. Reconceived Irish tunes plus two originals including the fusion jig, "Paddy's greed like a gangly weed grows," a medley from "Finian's Rainbow" plus "I Will Remember You/Fields of Gold."  

Other CDs Sue is on,

arranged or wrote

music and lyrics 

1. "Songs For Modern Mermaids" by singer Eve Zanni. Scat vocals
2.“Moonlite” by singer Tom Briggs (SaturnDisc). Co-composer/lyricist, arranger/producer,   singer/pianist on “Tom’samba” and pianist on “Only Trust Your Heart.” Bob Kindred, sax Romero Lubambo, guitar; Nilson Matta, bass; Vanderlei Pereira, drums; Duduka Fonseca, percussion.
3.“Dance My Heart” by singer Nancy Monroe (MA Records). Composer/lyricist of “younger Dreams”
4.“The Water Gypsies” by reedman/composer John Shaw (Aisha Records). Sang vocalese on 3 songs. With Ignacio Berroa, drums
5.“Mood New York” by singer John Luke. Arranger, pianist, violinist
6.“The Love Within” by pianist/composer/lyricist Bob Albanese. Recorded “Pajamasamba” with Bill Watrous, trombone
7.“Going Native” by singer/songwriter Emile A. Zoghby. Arranged and played keyboards on 4 songs
8.Soundtrack from “Rappin’' (Canon Films, Atlantic Records) Co-composer of “First Love Never Dies”
9.“E.T., I Love You” (LP) co-composer/lyricist and singer on “Where Did You Come From?”
10.“Mr. Men” (double LP) Arranger on “Messy,” vocal arranger and singer with Cissy Houston on “Shy”
11.“Me ’n Baby and Lee” (Sue Records by singer Baby Washington. Co-composer of “Hallelujah, Baby”
12.“Playing On the Moon” (LP on Flying Dutchman Records) by Biscuit Davis. Pianist on “One-Night Girl”
13.JAZZIZ magazine’s “Keyboards On Fire!” CD Sampler. “Pajamasamba” composer, pianist, scat vocals
14.Billboard 8th Annual Song Contest, 1998 double CD Sampler. “No, But I Wish...” composer/lyricist, vocals, keyboards, violin

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