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Album Review

Sofia Koutsovitis: Ojala

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Sofia Koutsovitis: Ojala
On her debut recording Ojalá, Argentinean singer Sofia Koutsovitis fuses several Latin American rhythms with a post-bop aesthetic to create a fresh and innovative sound. Koutsovitis belongs to a new generation of Latin musicians who in the last fifteen years or so, have created diverse blends of jazz styles with several South American musicians— enriching their language as they integrate different musical traditions.

Despite the long relationship between jazz and Latin music (some scholars trace the "Latin tinge to early expressions); Argentinean, Peruvian and other Latin rhythms are relatively new to the jazz vocabulary, since musicians have focused primarily on Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian styles.

On this record, Koutsovitis, a skillful singer in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, is knowledgeable of many folkloric musical traditions as well as jazz and experimental music idioms. She presents a balanced feel and leads an octet that performs sophisticated arrangements of her own compositions and songs by Argentinean, Brazilian and Cuban composers.

Eclectic, exciting, and aesthetically coherent, the recording shows the many faces of Koutsovitis' influences. The opening track "Ojalá, (a song by Cuban Nueva trova icon Silvio Rodriguez), features an arrangement with a Peruvian festejo rhythm. Other rhythms include "Gatito e la penas (gato), and "Alma del pueblo (chacarera) in duo with bassist Jorge Roeder, and "La Nostalgiosa, which has a strong Argentinean feel. "Gris, "Danca da Solidao, "You Don't Know What Love Is, and "El Silbador feature Koutsovitis as a more straight ahead singer, with the swing incorporating ethnic rhythms.

"Silence 1, "Silence 2, and "El Sucida (based on the words by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges) are more jazz oriented tracks featuring Koutsovitis as a more adventurous composer and singer playing with dissonances, rhythm changes, and her voice as an additional instrument of the ensemble.

Ojalá exemplifies the recent trends in Latin Jazz and Latin American music in general, and proves why Sofia Koutsovitis is one of the most versatile and in-demand singers in the New York music scene.

Track Listing

Ojala; Gatito e las Penas; Gris; Danca da Solidao; Silence 1; Silence 2; La Nostalgiosa; Alma del Pueblo; El Suicida; You Don't Know What Love Is; El Silbador.

Personnel

Sofia Koutsovitis: vocals, arranger; Jason Palmer: trumper; Adam Schneit: alto saxophone, clarinet; Daniel Blake: tenor,soprano saxophone; Leo Genovese: piano; Jorge Roeder: bass; Richie Barshay: drums; Jorge Perez Albela: percussion; guests: Jamey Haddad: percussion; Reynaldo de Jesus: percussion; Felipe Salles: soprano saxophone.

Album information

Title: Ojala | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced

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