After 2 critically acclaimed albums, "Ess ê nha Cape Verde/This is my Cape Verde" (2005) and "Verdade/Truth" (2008), Carmen Souza returns in 2010 with the impressive "Protegid" (Protected) that blends perfectly with elegance and sophistication the African and Cape Verdean traditional rhythms with Contemporary Jazz and Afro-Latin. This groundbreaking album presents a highly innovative sound & a continuation of the work already initiated in the two previous albums: pushing the limits of what constitutes the Cape Verdean music, World Music and Jazz.
Protegid, the London-based musician and songwriter’s latest album, lives in this magical Trans-Atlantic space, thoughtfully exploring the unexpected connections between jazz and Cape Verdean culture. Virtuosic yet warm, stunning and welcoming, Souza, with support from long-time musical collaborator Theo Pas’cal, captures all the possibilities of her Cape Verdean roots, everything from Polish dances to Arabic ornaments, with earthy wisdom and cerebral swing.
Horace Silver points to the intriguing, yet rarely explored connection between American jazz and Cape Verdean music, something Souza felt almost immediately. Silver, whose classic "Song for My Father" gets a new twist thanks to Souza's Creole lyrics and gorgeous voice, had Cape Verdean ancestry, yet the ties run far deeper.
"Cape Verde was colonized by Portugal, but a lot of other European, African, and Arabic influences came afterward. It’s a mestizo culture," Souza reflects. "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," in part due to a shared history of slavery."
This trans-Atlantic link makes Souza’s sway from one idiom to the other effortless. "Magia ca tem" starts out as a morna, the traditional bittersweet song form made famous by Cesaria Evora, yet soon morphs into a full-on jazz swing. "Someone who doesn’t know much about my Cape Verdean roots will most likely identify this morna as a jazz standard," Souza smiles. "I love that. I love to put things together."
Besides co-producing and featuring on Rhodes and Guitar, Carmen Souza also signs all the lyrics, like in previous releases, to the exception of an exquisite version of the song 'Sodade' that became famous on the voice of Cesária Évora.
Her outstanding songwriter talent gives emphasis to her mission as a messenger of Human understanding and Faith. "No jumble of disconnected phrases masquerading as coherent thought; instead, cogent observations on the monetary value some place on life, the hope given by children, intimate questions of faith, or inner desires." Said journalist Simon Rowand, talking about her lyrics while reviewing her album Verdade.
This record has the particularity of having been recorded in London, Lisbon, Toronto, New York, Paris, etc, mostly on a mobile studio that accompanied Carmen Souza and Theo Pas'cal for over 5 months into their Tours and Trips.
"The compositions and the bases of the songs with voice and bass first and then some pianos and percussion were recorded in London, pretty much everything else was recorded in the mobile studio, sometimes using only special rooms to capture the instruments, because of the acoustic requirements necessary. It was a great experience, because we had the opportunity and freedom to record and mix on super quiet inspiring environments without being obliged to be stuck to a common studio somewhere... " Say Carmen Souza.
"Protegid" exceptional group of musicians from Jazz and World backgrounds, most of them from her band, come from several different countries around the world (Portugal, Cuba, Angola, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Nigeria, Canada, Palestine, France, UK), were somehow already linked to the project, performing live, or were invited by Carmen for the musical and artistic identification. Names like last year Grammy nominee, Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, French Accordionist Marc Berthoumieux, Portuguese based Tora Tora Big Band and French based Oud player Adel Salameh from Palestine were some of the ones that add richness to this album.
Carmen Souza is undoubtedly one of the most important singers/songwriters of the new generation who, despite being born outside of Cape Verde, is a true ambassador of the mixed culture of her ancestors. She gives the traditional rhythms of the islands, like Funana, Morna, Batuke, Mazurka and others, a unique approach always looking for Excellency.
Her successful "Verdade/Truth", last album, led Carmen Souza to some of the most important stages in the world. With 'PROTEGID', she will surely win over audiences with her charisma, relaxed presence on stage, exceptional musicians, and her amazing vocal sound; so personal and unique.