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Maria Marquez

Maria Marquez is expanding the parameters of Latin jazz. With her luminous, cellolike timbre and supple rhythmic phrasing, the vocalist has painstakingly built her repertoire out of classic Latin American ballads, Brazilian standards and a vast treasure trove of tunes from her native Venezuela-songs largely unknown in the U.S. and obscure even in the rest of South America. Her breathtaking self-produced album Princesa de la Naturaleza (Nature’s Princess), originally released on her own label in 2003, gained widespread notice in 2004 when it was reissued by Adventure.

It’s tempting to describe Princesa as Marquez’s breakthrough, but her debut release, 1999’s mesmerizing Once Cuentos de Amor (Eleven Love Stories), made numerous top 10 lists after it was picked up for international distribution by Palm Pictures. On Princesa, Marquez assembled a program composed mostly by women, ranging from boleros and folkloric Venezuelan songs to Cuban cha cha chas and Sephardic laments, material perfectly suited for her arresting, ardently sensual voice.

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