Review by John Stevenson
Originally from Sao Paulo but now making her home in the US, Luciana Souza displays tremendous vocal dexterity on her 2015 CD, Speaking in Tongues.
However, Souza speaks the jazz lingo fluently, using her voice as the supreme instrument.
Joining her for this free-flowing musical conversation is the Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke, Swiss harmonica player, Gregoire Maret, Italian acoustic bassist (and mainstay of Loueke’s jazz trio), Massimo Biolcati and American drummer Kendrick Scott.
Out of many comes a singular harmonious sound with a secure structural dynamic.
Drawing on her rich training in jazz and European classical music, Souza (who holds Bachelor and Masters degrees from Boston’s Berklee College and the New England Conservatory) utilises her supple and deep-toned vocal palette to paint vivid rhythmic pictures.
“At the Fair”, best demonstrates how, assisted by Loueke’s percussive guitar licks and Maret’s accordion-like harmonica, she joyfully follows where the lively melodies lead her.
The Pat Matheny-sounding “Free At Last”, is a standout track and her incorporation of two Leonard Cohen poems (‘Split’ and ‘No One to Follow’ from his ‘Book of Longing’) into the musical dialogue are also praiseworthy.
Produced by the legendary Larry Klein, Speaking in Tongues represents a new and exciting point of experimental departure for a singer whose powerful voice has been deployed in a variety of music genres. One would hope that she continues in this vein.