Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 8, No. 5, 2009

  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
David Solway
Robert Rotondo
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle
Kevin Breit
Sophie Milman
Annie Poulain
Badi Assad
Donato & Bouchard
Ingrid Jensen
John Roney
Russell Malone
David Binney
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Mimi Fox
Voo Doo Scat
Coral Egan
Martin Taylor
Jordon Officer
Melody Gardot
Jean Vanasse
Yves Léveillé
Sylvain Provost
2009 Montreal Guitarissimo 2008 (Russell Malone, Stanley Jordan, Monte Montgomery, Sylvain Provost etc
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101 (featuring David Binney)
Montreal Jazz Festival 2006







Piano Keyboard


by Robert J. Lewis

Featured artist: LUCIANA SOUZA

With more than 50 years of living under my belt, I have belatedly discovered that when attending a concert I hate being distracted by (an abbreviated list): the painstakingly slow removal of cough candy from its wrapper, fortissimo throat clearing aerobics and late arrivals climbing over my long legs to get to their seats. For much of Luciana Souza’s unexpectedly satisfying concert during the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival at Club Soda, I was consistently distracted by her exceptional guitarist, Romero Lubambo, even when his playing -- in the spirit of self-effacement (an almost extinct musical virtue) -- was barely audible, in sympathetic support of a talented vocalist who now bases herself in New York. Before the concert began, she made a point of informing the audience that “it is always a pleasure to be playing with such an accomplished guitarist.” A baker’s dozen bars later, we all knew that to be true.

Souza comes by her music honestly: Her mother, Tereza Souza, is a poet; her father, Walter Santos, a singer-composer-guitarist; to which I would add: being born in São Paulo doesn’t hurt. She has been nominated three times for a Grammy Award as Best Jazz Vocalist in 2002, 2003 and 2005, winning one in 2008 for her collaboration with Herbie Hancock on Joni Mitchell’s “River.” She has also worked with Maria Schneider and Kenny Werner.

Perfectly bilingual -- she sings both in Portuguese and English -- but for her Montreal concert it was mostly in Portuguese, a language that lends itself to a winsomely willowy voice that can flow like water over smooth stone or wash over the body like a gentle rain. Like all good singers, she knows the limitations of her voice and refuses to belt out songs that might suggest she’s competing with octave-dangling Dianne Reeves. Despite increasing requests to play big, she gravitates to small venues to evoke the intimacy that connects her with audiences that bend to her voice and voicing as easily as heliotropes take to the sun. Which means she must know how to sing because her voice, in its range and sonority, doesn’t compare to the great voices.

Knowing what to do with a voice and what material it best serves is often better than having only a great voice. How many of us would concede that Nora Jones doesn’t have as good a voice as Diana Krall, for example? And as for Sting, what issues from his larynx is more of a sound than a song– and yet in both instances, no one does it better.

What Luciana Souza does persuasively well is surrender to what is most evocative in the music she chooses instead of self-consciously trying to take possession of it. Her ease and comfort with sometimes very difficult material is so unforced the audience concedes it to her. I can’t think of another singer who does everything so right and so naturally, and that of course includes partnering with Romero Lubambo, who, without mincing passing chords, is one of Brazil's great guitarists.

In the context of a sound we’re all familiar with, Lubambo introduces a vocabulary of chords and runs (voice rejoinders) that are out of this world, even in accompaniment. Along with guitarist Badi Assad, they are so inventive within the mostly acoustic context, their work stands as prima facie evidence that Brazilian music has gone where no South American music can follow, which is why its music has a worldwide following.

Luciana’s Souza’s latest album, Tide, which includes original material co-written with Larry Klein, was released in May of 2009. The recording did not include Lubambo, with whom, nonetheless, she tours. Could it be that recognizing their very special chemistry and natural affinity to all things and sounds Brazilian, she made us the beneficiaries of an admitted easier said than done career decision made in the face of label and marketing pressure? If yes, that defiance does her proud and plays even better with her audiences. May this dynamic duo return soon to El Norte.


Related articles:
Melody & Mind
Rap Music: Truth & Consequences



John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis