:: These reviews were originally published
:: in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


Expatriates, Pt. 4

Luciana Souza captivates
in Brazilian Duos.

Daniella Thompson

23 May 2002

Singer Luciana Souza is best known in the U.S. for her work with Latin-jazz pianist Danilo Perez, although a quick look at her agenda reveals engagements with symphony orchestras alongside classical performers such as Alicia de Larrocha.

Born in São Paulo, Luciana is the daughter of musician Walter Santos. The latter’s name should mean something to lovers of bossa nova and especially to readers of Ruy Castro’s Chega de Saudade, as Santos was a childhood friend of João Gilberto in Juazeiro, Bahia, before forming a successful songwriting team with Luciana’s mother, Tereza Souza.

Three of the parents’ songs are presented in Luciana’s latest disc, Brazilian Duos, a spare and gorgeous album of voice and guitar in which Romero Lubambo, Marco Pereira (playing an 8-string instrument), and Walter Santos take turns accompanying the singer.

With her high clear voice, a pure singing style free of artifice, extended legatos, and a frequently melancholy hue, Luciana often sounds like a female version of the great Cuban counter-tenor Armando Garzón. As Garzón applies his technical skills to boleros and sones, so Souza lends her trained voice to a spectrum of popular Brazilian tunes by the cream of her country’s composers.

Opening the disc is a medley of three nordestino songs accompanied by Marco Pereira and executed in unorthodox tempos. Luciana weaves from an amusingly speeded up version of “Respeita Januário” to an atypically contemplative “Qui nem Jiló” (whose lyrics are, in fact, eminently suited to this interpretation) and ends with the jazzified love song “Romance.”

In the lovely and mournful “Suas Mãos,” Walter Santos’ guitar sets up the stark atmosphere of a love lost. The 1940s samba “Pra Que Discutir com Madame?,” made famous by João Gilberto, is given a rapid yet relaxed rendition. Romero Lubambo’s guitar, which at first merely harmonizes against Luciana’s singing, picks up the melody halfway through the track, and the tone turns jazzy as voice and instrument engage in a closing duet.

“Pra Dizer Adeus” is another farewell to happiness, perfectly expressed. Its gloom is relieved by the optimistic “Amanhã,” penned by Luciana’s parents, in which the singer and Lubambo have another chance to frolic in tandem. Tom and Vinicius’ “Eu Não Existo sem Você” has been recorded numerous times, but Luciana gives it a singular reading with unexpected line divisions. Jacob do Bandolim’s “Doce de Côco” also departs from the traditional choro rhythm, becoming an intimate examination of a romantic relationship.

“As Praias Desertas,” like “Eu Não Existo sem Você,” was initially released in the album Por Toda a Minha Vida. Luciana’s voice expresses all the longing pent up in the lyrics:

[...] Porque tudo na vida há de ser sempre assim
Se eu gosto de você e você gosta de mim
As praias desertas continuam esperando por nós dois

“Docemente” and “O Bolo” are two songs by the Santos/Souza team. The first is a reverie on the beauty of love. The second is a humorous samba on how a hopeful lover interprets ‘maybe’ to mean ‘yes’ when the loved one intended it as ‘no.’

“Viver de Amor,” recorded by Milton Nascimento in Geraes, here has the feel of a Lied with a touch of Soul. And the closing track, Caymmi’s “Saudade da Bahia,” is no exception in this album—it, too, has been overhauled with unexpected phrasings and rhythms.

In Brazilian Duos, Luciana Souza lends an erudite flavor to MPB, and the latter comes out ahead.

Luciana Souza: Brazilian Duos
(Sunnyside SSC 1100; 2001) 42:33 min.

01. Baião Medley:
      Respeita Januário (Luiz Gonzaga/Humberto Teixeira);
      Qui nem Jiló (Luiz Gonzaga/Humberto Teixeira);
      Romance (Djavan)
02. Suas Mãos (João Pernambuco/Antônio Maria)
03. Pra Que Discutir com Madame? (Janet de Almeida/Haroldo Barbosa)
04. Pra Dizer Adeus (Edu Lobo/Torquato Neto)
05. Amanhã (Walter Santos/Tereza Souza)
06. Eu Não Existo sem Você (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes)
07. Doce de Côco (Jacob Pick Bittencourt/Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)
08. As Praias Desertas (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
09. Docemente (Walter Santos/Tereza Souza)
10. O Bolo (Walter Santos/Tereza Souza)
11. Viver de Amor (Toninho Horta/Ronaldo Bastos)
12. Saudade da Bahia (Dorival Caymmi)


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