LucianaSouza2 cover web

Album: The Book of Longing
Label: Sunnyside
Vertrieb: Rough Trade
VÖ: 21. September 2018

Ich habe mich vor vielen Jahren in Leonhard Cohens Book of Longing verliebt. Alles an diesem Buch ist mir wichtig und interessiert mich. Die Gedichte, die Zeichnungen, seine einmalige Art die Bedeutung eines besonderen Moments herauszuarbeiten, die Klarheit und Offenheit. Leonhard hat meine eigene Poesie auf diesem Album inspiriert und er hat andere Lichtgestalten der Dichtkunst hinzugeholt - Edna St. Vincent Millay, Christina Rossetti und Emily Dickinson. 

In den Liner Notes zur Aufnahme sage ich, dass es eine wunderbare Erfahrung war, mit ChicoPinheiro (acoustic & electric guitars) und Scott Colley (bass) Musik zu machen. Ich meine damit, dass es mysteriös, wunderbar und schön war, gemeinsam Musik zu machen, die die Poesie zum Klingen bringt. Wir haben dabei alle einen besonderen Bewusstseinszustand erreicht.

Es wurde mit bald klar, dass dieses Album von Worten und den Gefühle, die sie in mit hervorrufen, handeln sollte. Wie eine Reihe von Ideen mich an neue Orte führen und dabei Dinge und Wahrheiten offenbaren kann, von denen ich vorher nicht einmal gewusst habe, dass ich sie kennen sollte. Als ich damit begann die Gedichte zu vertonen, wollte ich, dass die Worte zwar gehört werden, aber nicht notwendigerweise klar definiert sind. Für mich sind Streichinstrumente am besten für diese Art von Songs geeignet. Wie die Stimme, so vergeht auch der Klang von gezupften Seiten und die dabei einsetzende Stille eröffnet neue Möglichkeiten des Zuhörens. Auch war die Idee eines Kontrapunkts zwischen der menschlichen Stimme und den Streichinstrumenten essentiell für mich. Die Musik sollte einfach und schnörkellos sein. Also begann der Prozess des Editierens und des Wegstreichens  komplexerer Harmonien und Melodien, zugunsten der einfachsten und ausdruckstärksten Musiklandschaften - es geht um die Worte, habe ich zu mir selbst gesagt  - einfache Dreiklänge, tonale Melodien, kein großes Getue, keine unnötigen Aktivitäten oder Verzierungen.

I had fallen in love with Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing many years ago.  Everything about that book is important and interesting to me.  The poems, the drawings, and his way of illuminating the truth of a moment, of revealing things, his clarity.  Leonard has inspired my own poetry on this record and invited the company of other luminary poets - Edna St. Vincent Millay, Christina Rossetti, and Emily Dickinson. 

It became clear to me that I wanted this recording to be about words and how they make me feel.  How a set of ideas can take me places, reveal things I didn’t know or even knew that I needed to know.  As I started setting these poems I wanted the words to be heard, but not necessarily defined.  To me, the string instruments offer the best canvas for these songs.  Like the voice,  the sound of plucked strings decay and brings on silence and more possibility for listening.  Also, the idea of counterpoint between the voice and strings was essential to me.  The music would have to be simple and unadorned.  Thus began the process of editing and shedding layers of more complex harmony and melody in favor of the most basic and expressive of landscapes - it’s about the words, I reminded myself - simple triads moving directly, tonal melodies, no fuss or unnecessary activity or ornaments.

I have made recordings based on poetry before.  The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs in 2000, and Neruda in 2003.  On Tide, in 2007, I set poems of e.e.cummings, and on Speaking in Tongues, in 2015, two poems of Leonard Cohen, also from the his Book of Longing.  I am often asked if I conceive projects based on themes, and if I return to poetry from time to time.  I guess it looks that way to the outside world.  To me, a project shapes itself and is generated by what is occupying more space in musical and artistic mind for a certain period.  But I never leave my other interests completely.  I am always navigating between poetry, Brazilian, and a more wordless and instrumental context.  To me, these things are interchangeable and they are one.  I can always find the stories in wordless melodies, and I can always find the silence in poetry.  (More)

The other day I taught a class and caught myself describing the process of setting a poem to music as falling in love.  Reading a poem from a book in a bookstore.  Falling in love with a poem.  Locking myself in a room and reading the poem ten, twenty times.  Walking around with the poem looping in my head.  Driving in my car and feeling possessed by the poem and thinking - You are mine!  I do think the process is a bit obsessive and all-consuming, but deeply rewarding… when you are granted permission by the publisher.  Poems will tell you their rhythm, they will sing their mood to you, and they may sit comfortably in a melody, if you so allow.

The method I described above has happened for each poem on this record.  The obsessive part is the one I crave the most and keep returning to.  The lure of a poem like Alms, or Remember, is palpable for me.  This is poetry that does not require explanation or translation.  The words are clear and I am the narrator. 

Having made recordings now for two full decades, I am never jaded by the magic, paradox, and surprising nature of the process.  How can you freeze and define in a recording music that moves in space and time?

When you play with musicians such as Chico Pinheiro and Scott Colley, you are treated to such a generosity of possibilities.  Questions get answered without having to be asked because the trust and intuition are so generously displayed.  Questions are also left unanswered, which is a necessity in music (and life) - to have things open and possible. 

Having had a long musical relationship with Scott and being a great admirer of his ability as a musician, I only wanted him for this project.  He is one of the foremost bassist in Jazz because he is such a complete musician.  A composer, a brilliant technician, and a verifiably adventurous improviser.  Chico is a newer musical partner but it became immediately clear that we were deeply compatible.  He combines his extensive foundation in Brazilian music with a very modern experience in Jazz.  He is very comfortable playing with singers and understands the function of the guitar on this small ensemble.  Both Chico and Scott have played a lot in duo and trio settings and they know how to function in such exposed music environments.  We recorded the voice, basic guitar, and bass, live - as in a recital.  Chico overdubbed his guitar solos and I overdubbed the percussion.  More and more I am interested in making my singing effortless and unadorned, not a place to show off, but simply a sound that vibrates with colors, words, melodies, and emotion in the most human way.  (More)

This is my sixth recording with Larry as a producer.  Each time is different.  Each time we are different.  While we share our home life together and we parent together, we are both very respectful of our professional lives and our personal relationship to music.  We value being individual musicians and we both revere our unique lineages.  I think we do well in recognizing we each have strengths and being curious to learn about the strength of the other.  Larry has a very clear and liberal manner in his process - he really wants to realize the best possible music, in the most personal and authentic way.  I find working with him a process of growth each time.  I am always struck of how broad-minded and yet focused he is.  He is also very knowledgeable of literature and brings enormous intelligence to our work. 

On the liner notes of the record I say that making music with Chico and Scott is a thing of wonder.  And I mean that in the sense of what is mysterious, miraculous, and beautiful about making music and lifting poetry from the page.  We all enter that particular state of awareness.

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