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 from Elsewhere articles index

Mdou Moctar: Niger EPs Vol I and 2 (digital outlets)

Mdou Moctar: Niger EPs Vol I and 2 (digital outlets)

One of the more casually insulting things you can say to musicians – especially Black African and Black American – is that their talent is somehow “natural”. Aside from... > Read more

Various: Next Brel (Barclay)

Various: Next Brel (Barclay)

The music and lyrics of Jacques Brel (1929-78) have seduced dozens of musicians down the decades, notably Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield . . . Actually just about... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Elsewhere Art . . . militant free jazz

Elsewhere Art . . . militant free jazz

As Elsewhere has noted a few times when dealing with the albums and the topic, most of the militant black free jazz albms of the late Sixties/early Seventies came out on small independent labels... > Read more

The Tokey Tones: Butterfly, Caterpillar  (2007)

The Tokey Tones: Butterfly, Caterpillar (2007)

It’s a common occurrence: just when popular music has got up a head of steam, some supportive critical consensus, and is charging off in a particular direction along comes something which, by... > Read more