Luciana Souza will release her new album Tide, May 26th.
In describing her choice of material for Tide
, Luciana Souza
says “geography and language have played a big part in my life. Feeling uprooted and disoriented, but also aspiring to being centered and calm – a real dichotomy of feelings, but somehow thriving in the memories and in the unknown. Poetry and music have carried me around, as has love.”
Luciana Souza has moved around. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, transplanted to Boston to study, followed by a decade immersed in the Jazz scene in New York City, and now a few years on the West Coast, in Los Angeles, Souza knows well that the only modicum of peace in the face of all of the movement is to appreciate the feeling of “saudade” that accompanies it. Tide
is Luciana’s second collaboration with her husband, Larry Klein. They chose to open the record with the anthem of Brazilians living abroad longing to go back. “Eu Quero um Samba” describes an expatriate Brazilian so homesick that the samba is calling his name. Her honest, simple, yet dexterous rendition of the song is an example of Souza’s acutely rhythmic and percussive signature, along with an agile sense of syncopation. Along with this, like all great jazz singers, she makes it all sound relaxed and conversational. This song begins what could be described as a song cycle concerning the simultaneous pull back towards where one has come from, in towards where one presently sits, and forward towards where one feels they are going.
The several songs that follow are original compositions of Luciana in collaboration with Larry Klein and David Batteau, and in some cases, musical adaptations that she and Larry Klein did of texts by the poet e.e.cummings. The songs sequentially explore the power of nostalgia, impermanence, and love. “Fire and Wood’s” lyric emanates from images taken from Souza’s youth in a large Brazilian city, and “Our Gilded Home” speaks of the difficulty of change and growth, both internal and in relationships.
”Love – Poem 65,” the first cummings poem, is a meditation on one of the only things one can aspire to manifest continuously through life. In “Once Again,” Souza sings of the failing to live up to the standards we try to hold ourselves to, the Sisyphean undulations of trying to approach the human relationship from the highest place within oneself. “Tide,” the other e.e.cummings adaptation, speaks to the ever-present vicissitudes of love and life.
Having worked with the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Pablo Neruda, e.e.cummings seemed another natural choice for Souza. His unconventional use of language and the freedom with which he alters sentences, connect him closely to jazz. To Souza, cummings represents the ineffable acuity and naïve clarity that a person from a non – English speaking country can sometimes bring to the language. “You have to get to the center of your ideas when it is not your language – you can say so much with so little. I am also attracted to the childish quality of his poetry: it has a primal urge, a purity and a freedom I crave. Paulo Leminski would be the Brazilian equivalent to e.e.cummings.”
Souza’s floating forr-based musical adaptation of “Chuva,” by Brazilian poet Paulo Leminski, steers the discourse back toward Brazil, a short contemplation on nature, beauty, and staying present and mindful. Continuing the journey back to Brazil, “Sorriu Para Mim,” is a distinctly Brazilian way of framing life’s contradictions. The circular suite of songs is concluded with “Amulet,” a wordless melody that Souza ably parquets into a guitar piece composed by Paul Simon. It is a poem of hope without words, a melody that inspires and suggest images of both return, and going forward.Tide
is a recording that displays the many talents of this multi-faceted Grammy® winner. Souza flies high and low, fast and slow in “Amulet,” and enchants and hypnotizes in “Tide,” “Once Again,” and “Love.” Her uncanny blend of sophistication, precision, and conversational singing is her own. Her imaginative phrasing grips you from the first note: here is an interpreter who savors the words and revels in the air that carries every note. Her years of work with so many different artists and in such different styles--Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, Osvaldo Golijov, Hermeto Pascoal, Guillermo Klein
, Maria Schneider
, Danilo Pérez
– have given Souza diverse experiences, and kept alive her adventurous musical spirit.
The rhythm section on Tide is a well-balanced mixture of Souza’s past and present: New York, Brazil, Los Angeles. She says, “These musicians can play metaphorically and can also play compositionally, which is what Larry and I were going for. Larry is keen on expressing the poetry through sounds as well, and he arranged the music to enhance the words. We chose musicians who can think orchestrally and compositionally in a small ensemble. Guitar is the central voice of the record - an homage to my father.”
Her Brazilian upbringing in a family of Bossa Nova composers and her years of study in Boston helped her develop her unique instinct as a singer and composer (Berklee and New England Conservatory trained) but she defies categorization and continues to carry forward her own tradition of exploration and curiosity.
On her last album, The New Bossa Nova
, Luciana explored the idea of taking the great North American Pop Song into the aesthetic of Brazilian Bossa Nova. With Tide
, Souza investigates her own life experience and sense of placelessness. Her previous recordings, The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Neruda, illustrated this artist’s perceptive grasp of the restlessness of the poet, but it is on Tide
that Souza shows us that she shares this same restless quality in her own art and music.