Oct 1, 2018
By her own admission, Luciana Souza records very slowly, with multiple years passing between her albums. We last spoke in 2012, when she had released two new CDs, The Book of Chet and a continuation of her collaborative series, Duos III. She is one of our finest singers, particularly in interpreting lyrics in both her native Portuguese and English. A lover of poetry, she has written lyrics from a number of poets’ work and put them to music, including Elizabeth Bishop in 2000, Pablo Neruda in 2004, and now Leonard Cohen, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. She adds three new songs of her own, showing her talents run to more than just her vocals. Recorded with just the intimate sound of guitarist Chico Pinheiro and bassist Scott Colley, The Book of Longing is a plaintive album, full of the emotions the title would suggest.
The Book of Longing is her 12th CD as a leader, and her sixth for the Sunnyside label. Besides her writing, arranging and singing on these releases, she has become a much-in-demand featured vocalist from artists ranging from Steve Kuhn, Donny McCaslin and John Patitucci to South American countrymen Edward Simon, Oscar Castro-Neves and Guillermo Klein. She was part of the Grammy Award winning album with Herbie Hancock, River – The Joni Letters in 2008.
Her recent collaborations have included Andrew Rathbun’s The Atwood Suites (check out the podcast interview here) and the Yellowjackets’ Raising Our Voice (check out the podcast interview here). She is off to Europe with the latter in October, and then returning to tour the US with her group for the rest of the year.
Podcast 640 is my conversation with Luciana, as we talk about the challenges and joys of putting poetry to music, how her producer (and husband) Larry Klein helps to shape her sound, and what he enjoyed about her recent collaborations with Russell Ferrante and the Yellowjackets. Music selections from The Book of Longing include “The Book” and “Remember,” and “Solitude” co-written with Ferrante from Raising Our Voice.