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Luciana Souza: The New Bossa Nova

Among late-20th-century music wizards, few, if any, can match the track record of guitarist/bassist-turned-mega-producer Larry Klein. You know him for two decades of sterling work with ex-wife Joni Mitchell, for Madeleine Peyroux’s breakthrough Careless Heart and the even better follow-up, Half the Perfect World, and for shaping and steering seminal albums by everyone from Robbie Robertson and Don Henley to Peter Gabriel (the landmark So), Bob Dylan and Holly Cole. Now, again blending his personal and professional lives, Klein is married to multiple-Grammy-nominee Luciana Souza and has produced her Verve debut. It should be a match made in chanteuse heaven.

Remarkably, though, Klein has managed to take one of the most distinctive and interesting vocalists of the post-millennial era and reduce her to a dull study in soporific mewing. What could possibly be considered “new,” apart from the fairly contemporary vintage of most of the songs, about a dozen tracks wrapped in tepid bossa arrangements with nary a spark of freshness or originality (apart from dollops of brilliance whenever trumpeter Chris Potter manages to break through the ennui)?

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