Carmen Souza


> > Jun 11 2013

Carmen Souza - Kachupada
By Michael J. WarrenThis album is titled after a corn-based meal consisting of two-dozen or so ingredients, informally known as the national dish of Cape Verde. Equally flavourful, Lisbon-born Carmen Souza carries on the Cape Verdean tradition of great songstresses (as one must in a post-Cesária Évora world). Kachupada opens abruptly with the mid-tempo, Afrobeat-like "Manhna De Dezembro," but reveals its more underlying jazz identity soon after with a cover of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," where Souza's scatting takes centre stage. Like the national dish, the album adds more variety to the pot with the head-nodding upright bass of "Lula" before switching into a traditional piano-driven rendition of "My Favourite Things." But amongst the jumble of elements in Kachupada, the uniqueness of Souza's vocals leaves the biggest impression. Mixed rather dry, relying very little on effects, harmonies or accompanied vocals, Souza's almost vaudeville-like inflections sit atop the other instruments like an intricate guitar solo. Musically, Mauricio Zottarelli's percussion dominates, proving impossible to relegate to the background. Like other great Lusophonic recordings, simple idiophones generating complex rhythms firmly plants Kachupada in some funky territory. Souza's singing style may, at times, be a little distracting, but the album presents an interesting and enjoyable international interpretation of what jazz can sound like.
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