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One often hears the expression, "It's all over the map." But it's rarely used been more truthfully or appropriately than when applied to Protegid, the third album by vocalist Carmen Souza, born in Lisbon, of Cape Verdean descent, and now residing in London. Singing in a colorful, eclectic Portuguese-based Creole, Souza illuminates, stretches, and snaps back the elastic connections between Latin, African and Arabic music, American jazz and the music of Cape Verde.
Souza conclusively proves that the "world music" evolution/revolution has transformed modern vocal as well as instrumental music. This transformative power breathes new life into the most famous song written by Cape Verdes' most famous native musician, "Song for My Father" by Horace Silver. Her new "Song"more than mere rearrangementtosses together a Latin shuffle from piano and percussion that keeps the original's rhythm rocking, with her vocal softly tracing the padded steps of her electric keyboard solo. "I came to discover that the songs that people sang in the fields on Cape Verde have the same pentatonic scale identified with the blues," she marvels.
Souza's half-spoken, half-sung introduction, and subsequent verses, to "Dos Eternidade (Two Eternities)" suggest Nina Simone pattering in French surrounded by a carnival of steel drums, a scene that abruptly shifts into jazz piano backed by percolating congas, jingling bells, and whistles. "Tente Midj" jumps out of this production, stewing percussion, acoustic guitar, and vocals together with jackrabbit accordion until thoroughly blended and steaming hot. The piano chords and horn chart of "Kem e Bo (Who Are You)" turn toward yet another time and place, the studied jazz-pop cool of Steely Dan. Unified with fretless bass, piano and percussion, her closing vocal to "Magia ca tem (Passionless)" even seems to whisper the same rarified breath as Flora Purim from Purim's magical tenure in Return to Forever.
"Afri Ka" and "D'xam ess moment (Worthwhile)" erupt with the wondrously inexplicable joy of vibrant, sunny African rhythms, teased and played out by Souza's vocal, sighing and flying, mewing and cooing, and very much sounding like a prowling cat.
Track Listing: M'sta Li Ma Bo (I'm Here for You); Afri Ka; Dos Eternidade (Two Eternities); Tente Midj; Protegid (Protected); D'xam ess moment (Worthwhile); Sodade; Song for My Father; Kem e Bo (Who Are You?); Magia ca tem (Passionless); Decision (Decision); Mara Marga (Bitter Mara).
Personnel: Carmen Souza: vocals, acoustic guitar, Fender Rhodes; Theo Pas'cal: acoustic bass, double bass, double bass bow, udo, cajon, snare timbales, brushes effects, skin percussion, traditional reco, traditional Agogos, backing vocals, wood and shakers, metal percussion, acoustic steel guitar, marimbas, kisange; Omar Sosa: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes; Jonathan Idiagbonya: acoustic piano; Claudio Cesar Lima Ribeiro: solo nylon guitar; Tiago Santos: nylon guitar; Pedro Segundo: drums, percussion, kaxixe; Zoe Pas'cal: Funana rhythm, percussion; Sebastian Sheriff: bongos, cajon, timbales, kaxixes, congas, batas, vibraslap, cabaca, guiro, cowbells; Derek Johnson: nylon guitar; Marc Berthoumieux: accordion; Joao Frade: accordion; Victor Samora: acoustic piano; Rick Lazar: cebolo, cajita, shaker, triangle, pandeiro; Lars Arens: trombone, euphonium, horn section arrangement; Miguel Goncalves: trumpet, flugelhorn; Johannes Krieger: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ze Maria: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Luis Cunha: trombone, euphonium; Adel Salameh: oud; Naziha Azzouz: vocals.