Carmen Souza


One of the most magical moments of my life happened on Christmas Eve, 1993, in the village of Neuville-sur-Saône, near Lyon, France. My daughter, who lives in Paris, had given me a CD by Cesária Évora, a singer from Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa. The first song on that album transported me as few songs have ever done, and in front of the fireplace, on a cold winter’s night in France, I danced with my eldest kid to music from that warm and faraway place. “Sodade,” the song we danced to on that long ago evening, is covered by Carmen Souza on this album, and, though her version is quite different from the one I heard back then, it is an interesting jazz variation on that most evocative song. And her version of the old Horace Silver jazz classic, “Song for My Father,” is an equally interesting interpretation of a song written and made famous by yet another of Souza’s fellow Cape Verdeans. If you’re planning to download just two songs from this collection, those would be my recommendations, but the rest of the album is interesting, too, heavy on inventive percussion and lots of jazz-tinged reworkings of sounds that began in Portugal, were transformed in Cape Verde, and then spread throughout the world, even to a small village in the south of France.