Oct 3, 2022
I must confess that any album that features Brazilian-born singer Luciana Souza is going to be on my radar immediately. A brilliant interpreter of both American and Brazilian pop and jazz classics, she collaborated brilliantly with Yellowjackets in 2018, and Vince Mendoza and the WDR Big Band Köln in 2020.
Her latest collaboration is another smashing success. Grammy-winning Cuban-born drummer, composer, bandleader, and 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Dafnis Prieto wrote songs and lyrics for his latest album Cantar, (on his Dafnison Music label) a great vehicle for Luciana’s talents. Prieto and Souza are joined by a trio of masterful improvisers on the album, including Peter Apfelbaum (Woodwinds, Melodica, Percussion, and Keys), Martin Bejerano (Piano), and Matt Brewer (Acoustic and Electric Bass). Recorded in September 2021, the project is co-produced by Grammy-winning producer (and Souza’s husband), Larry Klein, and Eric Oberstein, Prieto’s collaborator for the past half decade.
Songs with lyrics are something new for Prieto, but you’d never know if from the songs he (and on several, Souza) wrote in three languages — English, Spanish, and Portuguese — making it a truly global affair. Dafnis moves between his award-winning Big Band, the more supple sextet and this smaller group with little effort, driving the sound with his patented percussion. Ms. Souza is once again at the top of her game, her voice more than merely a device for the lyrics, but a true instrument in itself.
Podcast 937 is my conversation with Dafnis Prieto, as we hear the story behind the making of Cantar, his desire to write the lyrics for an album of his music, and why he tapped Luciana Souza for the gig, Musical selections include the wordless vocal of Luciana on "To the Concert." and the collaboratively written "The Muse."