Mamselle Maíz

Mamselle Maíz
Mamselle is the solo project of Montreal-based Mexican songwriter and performer Mamselle Ruiz. Her refined sound comes from years of music training in jazz and operatic techniques, including vocal studies with David Bowman (Screaming Headless Torsos) and Bobby McFerrin. With the input of several high-calibre musicians from both Mexico and Montreal, Maíz boasts a loose and fluid vibe within its intricate arrangements and tight performances. Joining forces with Mamselle on Quebec soil are jazz musicians Dominic Gamelin, Jérôme Hébert and Guillaume Larouche, along with a slew of other guests. Ruiz stretches beyond the blueprint of Latin jazz, combining various styles and rhythms with ease. She throws in a Brazilian cuica to liven up the single-worthy, jazzy samba of "La Nouvelle," incorporates flamenco flourishes in the more pop-oriented "Coeur du Desert" and uses an electric sitar for a droning effect on "Close Your Eyes." Ruiz mines the Cuban trova style, but makes it her own by adding a smooth jazz glaze to her gently strummed ballads. She also expands on a Cuban songo beat for "La Mascara." Also noteworthy is "La Tala," which begins as a traditional folk piece but ends on a modern tone with a spoken-word, ecologically themed rant against deforestation. With the exception of the latter, Mamselle's sophisticated fusions are mostly kept subtle. Be that as it may, Maíz is made no less compelling by being easy on the ears. (Independent)