Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
98

Sara Serpa: Mobile

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count Views
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.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop For Jazz

  • Rios
    Rios
    Sara Serpa & Andre Matos
    Primavera
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Aurora
Aurora
Clean Feed Records
2013
buy
Mobile
Mobile
Inner Circle Music
2012
buy
Aurora
Aurora
Clean Feed Records
2012
buy
Praia
Praia
Inner Circle Music
2008
buy
Bobby McFerrin Bobby McFerrin
vocalist
Astrud Gilberto Astrud Gilberto
vocalist
Esperanza Spalding Esperanza Spalding
bass, acoustic
Donny McCaslin Donny McCaslin
saxophone
Mike Moreno Mike Moreno
guitar
Flora Purim Flora Purim
vocalist
Liza Lee Liza Lee
vocalist
Sara Holtzschue Sara Holtzschue
vocalist

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.