Saturday, March 2, 2013

Karen Souza Hotel Souza MusicBrokers 2013

Hotel SouzaI have to admit one more female vocalist crossing my desk may have me in Home Depot looking for a length of rope and a rickety stool. Well...If that happens it sure would not be due to Karen Souza and Hotel Souza. Female vocalists especially in Los Angeles are a dime a dozen with the vast majority never making a dent much less a record. Souza scored out of the box with her debut release Essentials. Souza then did what she had to do, hit the road and left her native Buenos Aires for the musical crap shoot that is Los Angeles. Lucky for Souza her talent was joined by producer Joel McNeely whose resume includes Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee and Al Green among others. Hotel Souza works incredibly well thanks to some dynamite arrangements of classic songs that are not quite old school but have just a pop of a more modern contemporary vibe that would actually make numerous cuts potential cross over hopefuls if what is attempting to pass for commercial radio decides to expand their play list past Diana Krall played on their Sunday morning jazz hour.

So much for my soapbox...

"My Foolish Heart" is a perfect example of a deceptively subtle intimate warmth. Unlike similar "new comers" you never hear much less feel that connection between the artist and the tune. This is what separates the difference between a singer and a vocal artist and Souza makes that connection with ease and with the help of an effortless if not rock solid supporting ensemble. As a went down the song list, I stumbled upon "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" which had every fiber of my being screaming "yikes" Yet...Souza slows the tempo down and with the help of some well placed horns and a smoldering delivery, she crushes this song and the end result is the jazz version of the sexy little black dress.  "I've Got It Bad" while a touch more "old school" still carries that smoldering "something" that keeps one on the edge of their seat.

Intimate, warm, and with a sophisticated yet smoldering delivery there is little doubt Karen Souza is just getting started. I champion the independent oriented artist due largely in part to being an independent journalist but...Souza does not need my help as she is one of about four vocalists I have reviewed that one will not find singing in a church choir, on a cruise ship or at happy hour of one of the finer hotels in the Los Angeles area. It's not if Souza lands what was formerly known as the elusive major label deal but when...Far more than just a pretty face, the future of vocal jazz is in good hands with talent such as Karen Souza!

Tracks: Paris; Night Demon; My Foolish Heart; Delectable You; Break My Heart; I Heard It Through The Grapevine; Wake Up; I've Got It Bad; Full Moon; Dindi; Lie To Me.

Personnel: Karen Souza: vocals; Alan Pasqua and Tom Rainer: piano; Trey Henry: bass; Larry Koonse and John Goux: guitar; Jaime Branley and Ralph Humphrey: drums; Steve Kujala, Brian Scanlon and Dan Higgins: woodwinds; Rick Baptist and Wayne Bergeron: trumpets; Alan Kaplan: trombone; Brian Kilgore: percussion; Roger Wilke: concertmaster.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Danny Thomas: acoustic piano, hammond b3, keyboards; Andre De Santana: arrangements, co-production, electric and upright bass; James Gadson: drums; Joel Whitley: guitars; Edgar Sandoval: violin; Horn Section: Miguel Gandelman: sax; Ray Monteiro: trumpet; Garrett Smith: trombone.

Special Thanks To Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations!