Kat Parra: Azucar de Amor

Building on the strength of last year’s debut disc, Birds in Flight, Californian Kat Parra continues her role as an exceptional world-music ambassador with 10 more cross-cultural, multilingual tracks. What began, says Parra, as an exploration of life experience, emerged as an album about hope and, by extension, music’s role as a universally uniting force.

Wisely aligning herself again with trombonist Wayne Wallace, who produced Azucar de Amor and wrote or co-wrote eight of the 10 arrangements, Parra opens with a lively mambo/salsa reinterpretation of Stanley Turrentine’s “Sugar,” adding her own Spanish lyrics. Self-penned Spanish lyrics also figure into a salsa-infused “A Night in Tunisia” that shifts midway from gorgeously dusky to boldly vivacious. The international tour continues with three tunes written by Parra and Wallace: the wild, whirling “Quitate la Queta”; the sexily ebullient samba “Feed My Desire”; and the urgently passionate Afro-Peruvian landó “Un Grito.”

Finally, and most majestically, Parra furthers her fervor for Ladino Sephardic music, for which she recently received a Zellerbach Foundation grant, with the roiling, mysterious “Por La Tu Puerta” and the mellifluously ethereal “Esta Montanya d’Enfrente.”