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“Speaking in Tongues”

Label: Sunnyside

Genre: Jazz

Luciana Souza has always emphasized her skills as an interpreter of lyrics - whether singing Brazilian bossa nova classics in her native Portuguese or American jazz standards in her adopted English.

But on her new album, “Speaking in Tongues,” produced by her Grammy-winning husband Larry Klein, the genre-bending singer largely does away with words and instead uses her voice as an instrument on a collection of original music. She builds on a tradition of wordless singing in both jazz and Brazilian music - from Ella Fitzgerald and Bobby McFerrin to Milton Nascimento and Sergio Mendes’ Brasil ’66.

Souza blends her expressive vocals with the innovative improvisations of her multicultural band mates: West African guitarist Lionel Loueke, Swiss-born harmonica player Gregoire Maret, Italian-Swiss bassist Massimo Biolcati and American drummer-percussionist Kendrick Scott.

Offering a contrast are the only two tracks with lyrics - Souza’s hauntingly sparse musical adaptions of two Leonard Cohen poems, “Split” and “No One to Follow.” AP
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