This week, Ira spoke with Patty Ascher.
Las Vegas based, Brazilian born singer Patty Ascher is performing residency shows at the Downtown Las Vegas Container Park every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Ascher grew up in a musical household. Her father Neno was part of a very successful Brazilian band from the 70s called “Os Incríveis” (The Incredibles). “My father is a musician, his brother is a very popular arranger and maestro in Brazil and all my cousins play an instrument,” she says. As a singer, she cites Brazilian divas Leny Andrade and Gal Costa along with American jazz divas Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington as important influences. “What they all have in common,” says Ascher, “is personality. When you hear them you do know who is singing.”
She also lists Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra and Al Jarreau as among her favorite male voices, though her earliest vocal influence may have come from a 1930s icon. “The first song I remember in my life was ‘Ain’t Mishbehavin’’ with Fats Waller singing,” she recalls. “I was only three years old and I loved that song. I’d wake up in the morning hearing Fats, and that always stuck with me. Then I discovered Cab Calloway’s ‘Minnie the Moochie’ from a cartoon and I loved that as well. My father then introduced me to Louis Armstrong and I started to listen all the time to his versions of ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me,’ ‘High Society’ and ‘St. James Infirmary.’ I used to love that man singing just to me in my room while I was eating or taking a bath, even when I was sleeping.”
Ascher’s musical horizons eventually expanded to include the Beatles, American Soul and jazz. During her college years while studying for a bachelor’s degree in Literature at the University of São Paulo, she began immersing herself in Brazilian music while harboring a dream of becoming a professional singer.
In 2006, after earning a master’s degree at age 22, she encountered bossa nova pioneer, Roberto Menescal, who invited her to record her first CD, singing Burt Bacharach songs in bossa nova style. “Meeting him was a sign to me,” she says. “It was a chance to go on seriously with a career, working with a great producer and mentor. We released our project one year after our first meeting and it was a dream project. It was an incredible opportunity to sing samba and jazz together. They have a lot in common. Both were born in the ‘new continent’ at the same time from the same mother…Africa.”