Sara Serpa: Mobile

Bill Milkowski reviews vocalist Sara Serpa's 'Mobile'

This esoteric offering from Lisbon-born vocalist Sara Serpa recalls ambitious lit-jazz projects by singers Jay Clayton and Luciana Souza. Serpa was inspired by the likes of poet e.e. cummings and authors John Steinbeck, Herman Melville, V.S. Naipaul and Jose Rodrigues Miguéis in composing her stirring original pieces. On these tunes she demonstrates a tightly knit relationship with guitarist André Matos, who plays strict unisons with her haunting wordless vocals on twisting, stop-time numbers like “Sequoia Gigantis,” “Ulysses’ Costume” and “Ahab’s Lament.” The indelible hookup is perhaps best exemplified on the challenging “Traveling With Kapuszinsky,” which pushes Serpa to the extremes of her remarkably rangy vocal abilities. And on the freewheeling “City of Light, City of Darkness,” Serpa overdubs a choir of angelic voices. Pianist Kris Davis, bassist Ben Street and drummer Ted Poor provide superb support throughout.