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Luciana Souza: Brazilian Duos

She is the daughter of Walter Santos and Tereza Souza, two seminal figures in the history of Brazilian jazz. Her godfather is the equally esteemed Hermeto Pascoal. She was raised among Brazil’s finest musicians, arrangers and songwriters. She cut her musical teeth at her parents’ landmark Sao Paulo studios. Yet Luciana Souza will be the first to tell you that she is not a Brazilian jazz singer. Instead, she insists, she’s a jazz singer who happens to be blessed with a rich Brazilian heritage. The difference, slight as it may seem, has been critical to Souza’s professional evolution.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in jazz composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and her master’s from the New England Conservatory of Music, Souza, determined to avoid the often inescapable constrictions of categorization, launched her vocal career with The Answer to Your Silence, a straightahead assortment of English and Portuguese compositions released in 1999. The following year, she traveled a startlingly different path by setting several of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems to music, providing each with a distinctly appropriate jazz cadence. With two such disparate achievements under her belt, Souza decided it was safe to revisit her roots. The result, Brazilian Duos, sets a new standard for understated vocal elegance.

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