Luciana Souza Quartet
Saturday, Dec. 6; Outpost Performance Space (all ages, 8 p.m.): You won't find Brazilian composer and singer Luciana Souza's name in most of the exhaustive and homogenous books on jazz that line the shelves of your local bookstore. Yet, that is. With a musical background that extends into early childhood visits with Milton Nascimento and Hermento Pascoal and an upbringing by a family of bossa nova innovators, followed by a formal education at the New England Conservatory of Music and four years on faculty of the Berklee College of Music, Souza's stars are aligned in such a way as to ensure that she'll eventually be a household name.
She's released four albums as a leader, the latest of which, North and South (Sunnyside), completes a trilogy she began by putting the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop to music (The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs) and continued with 2001's Brazilian Duos. The trilogy, says Souza, was meant to underscore the fact that she could leave her native country only to find that it would never leave her. North and South is composed of some of Souza's favorite jazz and Brazilian tunes—several of them standards—along with a pair of her own works. The resulting album is a spacious rendering of her Brazilian roots that traces a graceful arc through contemporary jazz. Her choice of songs, from Jobim's "Corcovado" to Carlos Lyra and Ronaldo Bôscoli's "Se é Tarde me Peroda," and her treatment of them paint a sort of musical self portrait of Souza, whose artistry is almost unimaginably broad in scope and steeped in visceral understanding.
Souza's enlightened approach to jazz, which encompasses world, classical and new music, sets her apart from the singers and other jazz artists who dabble in genres less familiar to them in an effort to fill some personal void. On the contrary, Souza seems to have quite literally absorbed the musical world around her and distilled that vast knowledge into a sound that echoes the past, hints at the future and is uniquely her own.