Home » Jazz Articles » Sara Serpa: Mobile

98
Album Review

Sara Serpa: Mobile

By

Sign in to view read count
Sara Serpa: Mobile
Portuguese singer Sara Serpa is what is produced when the talents of Gretchen Parlato, Simin Tander and Tierney Sutton coalesce. Her voice is light and elastic, sporting a fierce intellect. Couple this with a vision/sense of humor of a Nicholas Urie and the result is a radioactive type of 21st Century Beat Poetry. Like Urie and his lyric book sources Excerpts From An Online Dating Service (Red Piano, 2009)—with text from the same—and My Garden (Red Piano, 2011), drawn from the poetry of Charles Bukowski, Serpa mines literature ancient (Herodotus' fifth century Histories on "Gold Digging Ants") and new (Ryszard Kapuściński's "The Shadow Of The Sun," on "Traveling with Kapuściński").

Serpa's use of the texts is sparse and serves as a jumping-off point for the composer/singer to indulge vocal/musical flights of fancy inspired by the verse. This creative freedom allows guitarist Andre Matos and pianist Kris Davis the same structured/free reign. Rounding out the band are the two crack timekeepers, bassist Ben Street and drummer Ted Poor, who also contribute as soloists on the edge, when not providing a solid rhythmic foundation to Serpa's musically transformed thoughts.

Serpa structures her compositions freely but precisely around the texts and their hidden meanings. "Pilgrimage to Armanath," based on V.S. Naipaul's "An Area of Darkness," builds on an inner motif, layered with voice, acoustic guitar and Fender Rhodes. Evolving from wispy to dense, Serpa navigates her composition to a quiet close, the only one that makes sense. On "Ahab's Lament" based on Melville's whale book, is, in contrast, solidly structured over geometric lines and undulating waves of sound. Serpa has quite the bag of tricks, she does.

This music, for the better part, is dark and brooding, both vocally and instrumentally. This is no mean criticism; Serpa is serious about her composition and it shows. She walks that fine line between the over-composed and unruly freedom (like politics, where the two movements meet in the back of a circular spectrum. Serpa is searching, and her search continues to provide compelling and provocative music.

Track Listing

Sequoia Gigantis; Ulysses Costume; Pilgrimage to Armanath; Ahab's lament; If; Tarveling With Kapuszinsky; Sem Razao; gold Digging Ants; Corto; City of Light, City of Darkness.

Personnel

Sara Serpa: vocals; Andre Matos: electric and acoustic guitars (3, 6, 9); Kris Davis: piano, Fender Rhodes (3, 5, 6, 9); Ben Street: bass; Ted Poor: drums.

Album information

Title: Mobile | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Ready Now
Jimmy Hall
Plays Monk & Ellington
Spike Wilner Trio
You Hit The Spot
Tracye Eileen

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.