London Acoustic Set
Released on the Galileo Music Communication label in January this year, the Carmen Souza Duo Feat. Theo Pas'cal's London Acoustic Set hits the spot!
Ms. Souza proves herself an outstanding singer, with excellent range, power, and superb expressiveness, while her long term collaborator Pas'cal is an equally exceptional bassist - long renowned as one of Portugal's leading exponents as well as composers and producers in the jazz and world music scene. Together, the combination of just voice, guitar and bass is formidable indeed and works supremely well. Souza and Pas'cal are completely empathic and perfectly attuned to one another.
London Acoustic Set was recorded live at the very intimate Green Note in Camden Town, London, with two tracks recorded live at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Being a live recording not only lends this album an immense spontaneity but also great intimacy, as if one could well have been at the little Green Note, even if the two Philharmonic Hall tracks might perhaps detract just a little from the illusion.
Of the twelve tracks, nine are Souza / Pas'cal originals, a further one adds Ms. Souza's lyrics to an old Horace Silver classic. Another is an Edith Piaf classic, and finally, one more the most well known and perhaps most emblematic of Cape Verdean songs, Sodade, whose ownership was long in dispute but which seems to have finally been awarded in court to Armando Soares in about 2006 although credited here to Amândio Cabral / Luís Morais & Amândio Cabral. The title is the Cape Verdean creole variation of a word of Galician-Portuguese origin, saudade (with varying pronunciations between Portugal and Brazil), which does not directly translate into English; the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic bossa Chega De Saudade is usually translated as No More Blues, which perhaps comes just vaguely close.
Ms. Souza's lyrics are predominantly in the (Portuguese) creole of her Cape Verdean heritage, with the odd interlude in English. And of course, there is the French Sous Le Ciel De Paris. Full lyrics with English translations are to be found on Souza's web site. Not that they are necessary, as Souza's expressiveness transcends all spoken language. She also extensively makes use of excellent scat-like singing throughout most of the songs.
There is a certain soulfulness to Souza's voice, often offset by degree of delicious teasing. Her renditions are warm, highly appealing and masterful. Something about Souza's style often reminds of the great singers of the past somehow, yet it always remains her own. Her interpretation of Sous Le Ciel De Paris is original and delightful, not a mere attempt at imitating La Piaf.
The songs of London Acoustic Set and their renditions, supported by Pas'cal's superb bass, bear the stamp of originality and inventiveness. This is solid vocal jazz-meets-Cape Verde world music-meets-singer-songwriter. A most fruitful meeting it is, too. Don't assume that you could pigeon-hole this amazing music. This is jazz of the heart, but it also appeals to the intellect and the feet. Its appeal is universal.
Highly consistent, London Acoustic Set is far more than merely compelling - it is utterly mesmerising and bewitching. You will find it very hard not to play this exquisite album over and over. It is absolutely gorgeous! Its soulful charm and beauty are just irresistible. Souza and Pas'cal are an invaluable addition to the British scene, going by this album.
Carmen Souza Duo Feat. Theo Pas'cal's London Acoustic Set is an absolute must have for jazz and world music aficionados alike, as well as for just about anybody who loves good music. Beg, steal or borrow if you must, but better still buy this fabulous album! You'll also help three very good causes as half of all sales generously go to charity. So buy extra copies as perfect gifts for friends and relations!
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