Maria João Monteiro Grancha was born in Lisbon (Portugal) on 27 June 1956. Her mother was from Mozambique and she inherited her rebellious spirit and restlessness from an early age. She learnt to sing listening to the great jazz divas, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday & Elis Regina, and she loved the music of Betty Carter, Al Jarreau and other great vocalists of the genre.
Her first group was “Maria João & Friends”, but her debut disc wasn’t released till the year 1983, titled Maria João Quinteto. A lot of standard American jazz numbers feature in her repertoire, including the famous Blue Moon, made popular by Billie Holiday.
Working together with Japanese pianist Aki Takase, she managed to change many concepts in the field of free-jazz, and it marked a turning point in her style and repertoire. Her collaboration with renowned Portuguese musicians like José Peixoto, Carlos Bica, José Salgueiro & Mário Laginha led to the release of her disc titled SOL (1991), in which traditional Portuguese music is mixed with jazz, producing an original sound with an excellent end result.
The album Danzas, released in 1994 on the prestigious “Verve” label, marked the beginning of a new stage forming a new duet, which lasts to the current moment, with Mário Laginha.
Maria João has collaborated and toured with a number of artists of world renown, such as Gilberto Gil, Christofer Lauer, Bob Stenso and of course, Mário Laginha. In the year 2001 she began working with a group led by Joe Zawinul, ex-keyboard player of the mythical Weather Report, with whom she performed live for over a year, at various European jazz festivals; also participating in projects with Susana Bacca & Paulo Flores.
In 2009, Maria João started a new band, Ogre, with young musicians João Farinha (piano & keyboard), Júlio Resende (piano), Joel Silva (drums) & André Nascimento (electronics). Once more, the singer goes to a new place, exploring musical territories totally unchartered for her; and she continues going on tour with this group, changing its formation as and when required.
Maria João | Ogre (electric trio)
Maria João: vocals
João Farinha: electric piano
Silvan Strauß: drums