OAKLAND -- Brazilian vocalist Claudia Villela believes in letting the venue carry the day.
Known for her forays into bossa nova, samba and American jazz, the Rio de Janeiro native said she will let the hauntingly beautiful Chapel of the Chimes inspire her May 19 performance. She will appear with longtime friend and guitarist Bob Basa at 2 p.m. as part of the Jazz at the Chimes series.
A self-taught pianist and singer with a five-octave range, Villela can pick from original compositions or draw from her large repertoire of classical and contemporary selections.
"I will be improvising out of the blue," said Villela, a veteran of the San Francisco and Monterey Jazz festivals. "The truth is I never know. In the moment, I decide depending on who is with me."
It's been more than two decades since Villela and Basa, both Santa Cruz County residents, have played together.
"He is a sensitive and quiet player," she said. "It will be something very intimate."
That certainly will fit the venue. Designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, the Piedmont Avenue chapel accommodates musical performances but still evokes the reverence befitting a final resting place.
"Ideally, I will play to that mystery," Villela said. "I can't be like a bride on her wedding day at the church worrying about the flowers. It's a moment of real presence, a presence you get by giving in."
Growing up surrounded by the sounds of samba, she fell in love with music at a very young age and has maintained a spiritual relationship with her art. Villela sang with the Stanford University Chorus and studied jazz at Manhattan School of Music and Cabrillo College after moving to California nearly 30 years ago.
Brazilian music fan Ann Whalley lives nearby and has been attending the Sunday shows at the chapel for several years. She is excited to hear Villela.
"The acoustics are really wonderful," she said. "The whole building is so beautiful, and it's nice to have a happy, joyful event there."
A reception will follow the concert, and attendees can meet Villela and Basa, as well as buy their music and have refreshments. General admission costs $15, but students and seniors 60 and older pay $10. Tickets are sold for cash only at the door beginning at 12:30 p.m.
What: Jazz at the Chimes, featuring Claudia Villela and Bob Basa
When: 2 p.m. May 19
Where: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland
Tickets: $15 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors 60 and older. Cash only at the door beginning at 12:30 p.m. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.