A review of a performance by the Brazilian Duo

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One Thursday I joined several friends at a nearby auditorium several minutes before 7:30. We adjourned to see the Brazilian Duo, comprised of Luciana Souza, a gifted vocalist and composer whose knowledge of jazz, world music, classical and new music is second to none, and her companion, Romero Lubambo who has devoted his life to the study of the art of guitar.

The pairs' performance was the latest of a number that these two have given side by side with only each other to work with and respond to. And this fact was apparent in every note and every melody. They carried their part out like seasoned professionals that were completely comfortable with what the other was doing. Although there was no improvisation, I feel sure that Souza and Lubambo would have no difficulty with it. There was a feeling that one would know what the other would do even as they thought of it themselves.

Lubambo played the part of an entire band in the songs that the two performed. He would conjure out of nothing and then hold tempos that were adagio, moderato, allegro, and everything in between with his pounding bass lines. Simultaneously, he would construct melodies that were sometimes repetitious and sometimes not, depending on what form the song took. At times, it seemed that Luciana would relinquish the lead and follow (as best she could, which was pretty well considering the finger speed that Lubambo has) his furious note or chord progressions.

But it was Souza that was the dominant force. Lubambo’s playing was simply accompaniment to accent her beautiful alto pitch and provide the necessary driving background force. I am only guessing alto because she had no problem hitting high notes. However, she seemed unfazed when required to work in a lower tone. Souza’s voice, with the pure Portuguese tones that come with her heritage and her fluency in the language combined in perfect consonance with Lubambo’s back up rhythm. Lubambo is able to capture the Brazilian feel of music by himself but it is only when his playing is combined with the natural pitches and tones that Souza controls, the ones that are inherent in her. Souza is the essence of a pure Brazilian who is drawing from centuries of musical evolution. It is in her blood. She can train her voice but the feeling and intensity is part of her and something that cannot be taught.

But it can forever be improved upon. Lubambo’s excellent guitar skills and Souza’s exceptional voice captured the essence of Brazilian sounds but added their own unique flavor, taking the next step in furthering their art form. Lubambo is clearly forever striving to speed up his progressions and take the music in new directions. As a guitarist myself, I can attest to a guitarist’s desire to add new dimension to old rhythms. Lubambo has the gifted composer Souza to aid him in his quest and continuously strive for new innovations. I have never heard the songs that these two performed but I am fairly certain that Souza scatting was a way of blending old styles with the new.

I left the show feeling like I had just been witness to a new direction in musical evolution and with a better understanding of the way that this duo works together and uses the talents that they have to push in this new direction.

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