Words have always mattered to Luciana Souza as much as music. The Brazilian singer and composer—whose father was a bossa nova guitarist and songwriter, and whose mother was a poet—is that rare jazz artist who has always been equally comfortable in both worlds.
In The Book of Longing (Sunnyside), her 12th album and first in three years, everything emanates from the written word. Souza’s point of departure is Leonard Cohen’s 2006 book of sacred and profane poetry of the same name, from which she sets four poems of longing and loss to spare, hypnotic music. Other songs are based on similarly melancholy poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Emily Dickinson, and Christina Rossetti and three by Souza herself. She wrote and arranged the music with two sensitive and creative musicians in mind: Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro and American bassist Scott Colley, with Souza adding percussion.