Grammys 2013: Luciana Souza’s L.A.-Brazil jazz connection

Luciana Souza, a Brazil native who's nominated for two Grammys this year, as photographed last summer at her Los Angeles home.
(Ricardo de Aratanha / Los Angeles Times)

If Luciana Souza wins two Grammy Awards on Sunday, will her acceptance speeches be in English, in Portuguese or both?

This year, the Brazilian-born, L.A.-based chanteuse has managed the highly unusual feat of being nominated for singing in two languages, on two different records. Souza’s “The Book of Chet,” an homage to West Coast Cool Jazz idol Chet Baker, recorded in English, is a contender for the jazz vocal record Grammy. The category’s other nominees are Denise Donatelli’s “Soul Shadows”; Kurt Elling’s “1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project”; “Live,” by Al Jarreau (and The Metropole Orkest); and Esperanza Spalding’s “Radio Music Society.”

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Meanwhile, her Portuguese-language “Duos III,” which was recorded in Sao Paulo, is a nominee in the Latin jazz record category. Its rivals are Chano Domínguez’s “Flamenco Sketches”; the Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band’s "¡Ritmo!”; “Multiverse” by the Bobby Sanabria Big Band (which also is nominated for instrumental arrangement); and “New Cuban Express” by pianist Manuel Valera and the New Cuban Express.

In an interview with The Times last summer, Souza said what attracted her to Baker’s voice when she first heard it was his sensitivity and fragility. “That’s what I love about it,” she said, “because to me it reveals his honesty.”

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Souza said that she thinks of “Duos III” and “The Book of Chet” as the A and B sides of the same album.

“I coexist within this thing of Brazil and the U.S.,” she said. “It’s very easy for me, once you understand the language, or you feel you can communicate in a language, and you understand what people are saying, and you’re not hiding anything or afraid of anything.”


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