The music of Chet Baker is located in a place of such utter solitude, yet anyone going there begins to have his or her cup filled up with a kind of remarkable and mysterious peace.
Whether Mr. Baker was playing an instrumental piece, or accompanying the burnished mute of his trumpet with a slightly murky, off-key falsetto he invariably reaches that place of complete loneliness, either bemoaning a broken relationship, or one that is about to become so. But once there, remarkably, things become reflective amid echoes of nothingness; exploring existential angst turns so inward as to reveal a soul at peace with the oneness of its singularity. This is what Luciana Souza discovers on her outstanding album The Book of Chet a record that moves in the implacable rhythm of Mr. Baker’s rolling romance with solitude. That Ms. Souza is able to keep things moving at that pace, buffeted, it seems by cold winds at her face throughout the record is a magnificent achievement. With steady control of her Ms. Souza let the words of songs escape with a haunting ache and such elemental pain that she seems not to want to tell these stories, but is compelled to tell them almost as if they were therapeutic vocalastics.
Luciana Souza is one of the most fascinating vocalists today. She pierces the skin of her songs and then, coursing through the blood of the lyrics, she arrives at the heart and soul of the musical and narrative intent. From there she spreads her proverbial vocal wings and, letting a primordial breath escape her lips, she takes off into the bitterness of their musical topography. She is pitiless and driven by their essential sorrow or, as the case may be, by the turbulence leading to a formative peace. Ms. Souza sings and scats with purity of enunciation and musky, gliding expression that leads to the assumption that she ingests the essence of the lyrics in an almost shamanistic manner. She hold syllables in the depth of her throat, examining their emotion in her soul before singing them and setting up the words, phrases and whole lines that are to follow. Such is her control that it may not be unheard of that someone listening may turn blue in the face waiting for the resolution of the emotion or feeling.
There is nothing that Luciana Souza cannot do vocalastically. She is multi-lingual and on her Portuguese albums vocals gambol making elliptical movements leaping from one plane to another. She is playful and sexy, provocative and hypnotic and is the architect of magical song structures that inhabit not three but even a spectral, fourth dimension. On this album, however, Ms. Souza turns Mr. Baker’s music into a monochromatic series of events from the hopelessness of “The Thrill is Gone” to the shocking pain of “I Get Along With You Very Well” and the benumbed hypnosis of “I Fall In Love Too Easily” and “You Go To My Head”. Ms. Souza also invites three other astonishing musicians on this merciless journey with her: guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist David Piltch and percussionist colorist Jay Bellerose. As much as Ms. Souza is in control the pace of this album because she is made completely of music it is equally with total mastery of their instruments that these men are just as carves out of music and are able to keep up the agonizingly slow rhythmic slide into solitude. Mr. Koonse plays so within himself and almost totally in triads, Mr. Bellerose moves his arms in slow mesmerising circles just barely brushing the skins while Mr. Piltch picks his way ponderously providing, with Mr. Koonse, the most hypnotic and indigo harmonies on record. This is certainly one of Luciana Souza`s most sad, yet intoxicating albums yet.
Tracks: The Thrill Is Gone; Forgetful; He Was Too Good To Me; I Get Along Without You Very Well; Oh You Crazy Moon; The Touch of Your Lips; The Very Thought of You; I Fall In Love Too Easily; I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You; You Go To My Head.
Personnel: Luciana Souza: voice; Larry Koonse: guitars; David Piltch: acoustic bass; Jay Bellerose: drums and percussion.
Luciana Souza on the Web: www.lucianasouza.com
Label: Sunnyside Records
Release date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama