Jennifer Zea and the Antipodean Collective: The Latin Soul (Mama Wata)

 |   |  1 min read

Jennifer Zea: Mi Nina
Jennifer Zea and the Antipodean Collective: The Latin Soul (Mama Wata)

Venezuelan singer and songwriter Zea must be thanking the gods that in 1994 she saw The Piano . . . and was so seduced by the New Zealand landscape she decided to move here. And that she brought with her a background of various musical styles picked up on home turf, American soul from the radio and time in Detroit, chanson in Paris, Brazilian and Caribbean sounds . . .

In this country she has teamed up with some of the finest jazz players around -- among them pianists Kevin Field and Jonathan Crayford whose sound is integral here -- and had the album sympathetically produced by Nathan Haines who keeps things clean, fresh and brightly tight.

With her commanding, sometimes deep and masculine, voice, Zea certainly attracts attention with her confidence and unwavering delivery (and a sense of sultry seduction in places which she never overplays), but there is also a lot going on here musically.

Although there are Afro-Cuban sounds (the opener Ven sets the tone) and plenty of Latin soul stylings, there are also pop sensibilities brought into play, terrific jazz playing (on Juan Jose pianist Crayford takes Ramsey Lewis from being In With The In Crowd on an angular dance into Rio's clubland) and some breezy English-language songs you'd hope would make it to radio on warm day (notably the makeover of Stevie Wonder's Moon Blue).

The ballads To Love and Mi Nina written by Zea and Field are just plain lovely and win through understatement. 

There are also little sonic effects -- footsteps, distant applause -- and for the life of me I was sure there was a cicada on the humid Candelaria, but it was outside my window. It seemed highly appropriate though because the whole album sounds like it was conceived on a warm night beneath a tropical moon.

Made in New Zealand, but world class on every level. 

Share It

Your Comments

Angela's - May 28, 2012

Bliss to one has heard too many discordant sounds today

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale: Breathing Under Water (Manhattan/EMI)

Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale: Breathing Under Water (Manhattan/EMI)

This soundtrack suffers only major drawback in my book: the presence of Sting on the song Sea Dreamer. Is there a more irritating singer on the planet? (Yep, the yelper in Yes. The screacher... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Van-Anh Vo of Hanoi Masters

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Van-Anh Vo of Hanoi Masters

Since Vietnam opened itself for Western tourism in the mid Nineties, thousands have travelled there to experience the wonderful food, cheap beer, beautiful beach and mountain villages and the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Singer-guitarist Taylor is nominally posted here under Blues in Elsewhere, but -- as always, see previous reviews here -- he doesn't easily fit into the prescription, broad though it might be.... > Read more

Keith Jarrett Trio: Setting Standards (ECM/Ode)

Keith Jarrett Trio: Setting Standards (ECM/Ode)

Pianist Keith Jarrett's career and recent work has been well covered at Elsewhere so all that needs be said about this triple set is that it collects the two albums in his Standards series with... > Read more