Luciana Souza is arguably the most impressive jazz singer working today. Four of her solo recordings have been nominated for Grammy awards, and she has managed to forge an instantly identifiable individual sound while still working across several disparate musical styles. Late August brings the release of two new recordings—her first in three years—that feature jazz standards on the one hand and classic Brazilian bossa nova on the other.
The operative question with Souza, in many respects, is what makes her a “jazz” singer rather than a singer in the Brazilian tradition. Ultimately, she is neither and both—just a very, very fine musician, of course—but her perspective and approach make answering this question entertaining, indeed.
I spoke to Souza in July about this question, about her perspective on these musical traditions, and about her new music. From the first moment of the conversation, she was bursting with history and humor, opinion and good-natured sass—a mile-a-minute talker who is both incredibly humble and sharply intelligent.
Souza was born and raised in Sao Paolo, Brazil, by parents who were musicians and composers. Literally exposed from birth to the initial flowering of the Brazilian bossa nova spirit, she came to the US at 18, attended Berklee for her BA and then earned a Masters in “jazz studies” at the New England Conservatory. She is authentically Brazilian and utterly jazz, utterly American at the same time.
Read my interview with Luciana Souza and the entire JAZZ TODAY column here:
Luciana Souza's Multi-Directional Approach to Jazz Singing