This recording, Higher Grounds, is a short extended play – just under half an hour – and if DO’A was testing the proverbial waters to gauge a response, there is no reason why it should not be a quite fabulous one. The sultry-voiced vocalist performs a fine interpretation of “Flor de lis”, a classic tune by the celebrated Brasilian Djavan. Not only does she come up trumps singing in Portuguese – pronouncing it the lyrics the way Brasilians speak the language – but she is en pointe when it comes to pulling off the sashaying Brasilian swing.
This would have been difficult to do had it not been for the musicians – mostly because she has the benefit of two fine young Cubans in pianist Harold López-Nussa and his brother Ruy Adrian López-Nussa to make it so much easier to do so, as does the high-flying Cuban trumpeter Mayquel González.
The vocalist also makes her mark with other repertoire – notably “Alfonsina y el mar” – a classic chart [a zamba composed by Argentine pianist Ariel Ramírez] that seems to have been written for her vocal range. Moreover, the music and lyrics of this song seem to speak to her in a very special way. And she returns the favour by reveling in the subtle power of the emotions of lyrics and music.
DO’A also gives notice that she is a budding composer. Both her original charts – “Unidad” and “Krijim” – reveal a fresh voice unafraid to dig deep and express raw emotion without an iota of sentimentality. On the whole, DO’A’s generous mezzo seems ideal to express the overall dark [or at least shadowy] lyrics. This she tackles with supreme skill throughout.
The supporting case on this recording is also very strong. Julio César González anchors the rhythm section – with both percussionists – and makes beautiful music without drawing attention to his virtuosity [something he has in spades]. The same holds true for pianists Nando Michelin and Shai Maestro. A very impressive debut recording indeed.
Tracks – 1: Flor de lis; 2: Alfonsina y el mar; 3: Lámpara; 4: I Fall in Love too easily; 5: Unidad; 6: Pranvera; 7: Krijim
Musicians – DO’A: vocals, guitar [3, 5] and piano ; Harold López-Nussa: piano and vocals; Mayquel González: trumpet; Julio César González: bass; Ruy Adrian López-Nussa: percussion ; Nando Michelin: piano [2, 4]; Shango Dely: percussion [3, 5]; Shai Maestro: piano 
Released – 2022
Label – Outside in Music [OiM 2218]
Runtime – 26:11
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