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Luciana Souza Talks New Album with DownBeat Magazine

Front cover of DownBeat magazine with Luciana Souza in a flowing red outfit

Last month, acclaimed jazz singer and faculty of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts Luciana Souza graced the cover of “The Latin Issue” of DownBeat Magazine, where she shared the inspiration behind and experience of creating her latest album, Cometa

Cometa, which is Portuguese for comet, was made in collaboration with the Grammy Award-winning Trio Corrente. By melding the community-building power of Brazilian music with a jazzy expressivity, the artists have delivered a contemplation on joy in the face of adversity. More about the album from DownBeat

The comet’s birth arrived when Souza and Trio Corrent[e] — pianist Fabio Torres, bassist Paulo Paulelli, drummer Edu Ribeiro — came together to celebrate the break from the depression and desolation Brazil had recently experienced when the pandemic combined with a disastrous presidency. Their goal was to turn the page into a cheerful affair with the pleasures of making Brazilian music as a community. That’s at the heart [of] Cometa — not just another relief recording from the pandemic, but a social uplifting from the tragic politics in their homeland.

Though the artists shared connections via recordings from previous years, Cometa marked the first time Souza recorded with a standard trio. Souza praised Trio Corrente, recognized as Brazil’s preeminent instrumental band, as a “perfect” group with the power to facilitate Brazilian music’s deeper dive into jazz. 

“It’s not just my album,” Souza was quoted in the article. “It’s an album that’s about all of us.”

Souza is a São Paulo-born, Los Angeles-based musician and educator who previously taught at her alma mater, the Berklee College of Music. She is an eight-time Grammy Award nominee, and was among the vocalists on Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters, which won Album of the Year in 2008. She is also a two-time recipient the Jazz Journalists Association’s Best Female Jazz Singer Award (2005 and 2013). Souza is the latest CalArtian selected for DownBeat’s cover story, following saxophonist James Brandon Lewis (Music MFA 10) this past June.

Read the full feature at DownBeat.

Picture of Taya Zoormandan

Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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Luciana Souza Talks New Album with DownBeat Magazine