Artist Spotlight: Camila Meza

Traces of pop, folk, and Latin America abound in the Chilean singer/guitarist's work

Camila Meza performs at the 2016 Rīgas Ritmi Festival

Guitarist and singer Camila Meza blends jazz and her broad musical tastes, including notes from Latin American, Brazilian, folk and pop music, uniting those sounds into irresistible melodies and improvisations.

Born in 1985 in Santiago, Chile, Meza studied with Argentinean singer Jorge Vidal and Chilean guitarist Jorge Díaz. Meza may be best known for her voice, preferring a limpid vibrato-less delivery that recalls Jim Hall’s tone and Claudia Acuña’s artful phrasing, but she is something of an accidental vocalist. She discovered her vocal ability at Projazz Instituto Profesional in Santiago, through an ear-training class she took as part of her guitar studies.

Camila Meza & The Nectar Orchestra (Live) | Jazz Night In America

Her first recording, Giovanni Cultrera, Espinoza y Cia (Navidad en Jazz), was released in 2005. Her official debut album, Skylark, was released in 2007. She has performed in Fabian Almazan’s Rhizome and the Nectar Orchestra, a chamber group she co-leads with bassist Noam Wiesenberg.

Her album Traces was composed over three years and released in 2016 on Sunnyside Records. Her fourth album overall, Traces was produced by Matt Pierson and features Shai Maestro, Matt Penman, and Kendrick Scott, with special guests Bashiri Johnson, Sachal Vasandani, and Jody Redhage. The album includes eight new original compositions, plus “Green Finch and Linnet Bird” (Sondheim), “Amazon Farewell” (Djavan), “Luchin” (Victor Jara), and “Little Person” (Jon Brion).

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Camila Meza – All Your Colors (Official Video)

Meza says that the album represents her joyous journey from a young, accomplished musician in Chile (inspired by Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Led Zeppelin, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, Björk, Elis Regina, and Chet Baker), to joining a new generation of musicians in New York who are contributing their disparate influences and experiences to jazz.

Camila Meza ‘Amazon Farewell’ Live @ Jazz Standard

Meza remains busy as an in-demand side musician, working with the likes of Ryan Keberle, Fabian Almazan, Aaron Goldberg, Sachal Vasandani, and many others.

More on Camila Meza from JazzTimes

Camila Meza Finds Her Voice(s)

Camila Meza: Ámbar (Sony Masterworks)

Camila Meza: Traces

More on Camila Meza from Around the Web

Camila Meza and the Nectar Orchestra Combine Many Musical Traditions on “Kallfu” (premiere) – Pop Matters

Take Five: Building Bridges with Camila Meza, Kendrick Scott, Seamus Blake, and Diana Krall – WBGO