Jazz Divas Rule at 2019 South Pasadena Carnegie Concert

Luciana Souza headlines the South Pasadena Public Library Carnegie Concert on Saturday. Photo: Anna Webber
By Sven Fieldsteen and Aleja M. Sierra

The  Library Carnegie Stage Concert, an essential and always compelling component of South Pasadena’s annual Eclectic Music Festival & Arts Crawl, will be held this Saturday, April 27th and headlined by jazz singer extraordinaire Luciana Souza. One of the foremost jazz vocalists in the world, Souza will be accompanied for this unique presentation by Otmaro Ruiz, a renowned Venezuelan pianist. The duo are slated to take the stage at 6:30 pm inside the beautifully restored South Pasadena Public Library Community Room—an acknowledged historical, architectural and cultural landmark—at 1115 El Centro Street.

Julia Vari returns to L.A. for the Eclectic Music Festival. Photo: Charlotte Bell Photography
Back by popular demand, acclaimed jazz and world music composer-pianist-vocalist Julia Vari kicks off the concert at 4pm. Vari is appearing at the Library Community Room for the second time, having made her South Pasadena debut there in 2018 to a standing-room only crowd which called for encore after encore. The David Plenn Band, led by singer, songwriter and record producer Plenn (who co-wrote “The Forecast Calls for Pain,” a monster blues hit for Robert Cray) follows at 5:15pm. Seating is limited and offered “festival style” (first come, first seated).

Grammy-winner Luciana Souza is universally regarded within the world of contemporary jazz as both an innovative visionary and a groundbreaking luminary by both critics and aficionados alike. Rooted in traditional Bossa Nova, a Brazilian export which took the popular music world by storm in the 1960s, her style has evolved the form significantly. Born into a creative family—her father is a well-known musician and her mother an accomplished poet—Souza grew up in São Paulo, Brazil. But her work as an artist transcends any conventional boundaries, and her seamless blending of styles and forms is characterized by a virtuoso fusion of jazz with a diverse range of music from throughout the world and across the epochs.

Souza began her recording career at age three with a radio commercial. She went on to record more than 200 jingles and soundtracks, becoming a first-call studio veteran by age sixteen. Since 2002 Luciana Souza has released a consistent stream of recordings that have been critically lauded world-wide and include her six Grammy-nominated albums. Luciana’s debut Universal Music recording, The New Bossa Nova was met with critical raves. Of her 2015 release, Speaking in Tongues, The New York Times exclaimed: “Luciana Souza has used her voice as an instrument of empathy and intimacy, cultural linkage and poetic disquisition… singing wordlessly but with full expressive intent.”

Among the constellation of legendary musical stars with whom Souza has performed and recorded are Herbie Hancock (on his Grammy-winning record, River: The Joni Letters), Paul Simon, James Taylor, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, and many others. Her complete discography contains more than sixty recordings that feature her background vocal work.

Luciana Souza’s singing has been described as “transcendental, “perfect,” and a thing of “unparalleled beauty.” She has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra. Her chamber music work culminated in a collaboration with the award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

A former member of the faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Souza has also taught for four years at Manhattan School of Music in New York City and continues to teach Master Classes all over the world. From 2005 to 2010, Luciana was the Jazz Artist in Residence with the prestigious San Francisco Performances. In both 2005 and 2013 Luciana was named “Best Female Jazz Singer” by the Jazz Journalists Association.

This year’s Library Carnegie Stage Concert, is made possible through a unique partnership between the City of South Pasadena, the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, the Lucille and Edward R. Roybal Foundation, the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, The Bissell House Bed & Breakfast, South Pasadena’s Eclectic Friends of the Arts, The Rotary Club of South Pasadena, and the Woman’s Club of South Pasadena.

“We also want to give thanks to Brad Colerick  and Ximena Dussan of DeepMix Entertainment, 210eastsound, Kurtis Nakagawa, Tim Carruth, and Jimmy O’Balles,” says Steve Fjeldsted, Director of Library, Arts and Culture at the South Pasadena Public Library. “It’s because of people like them that we are able to present world-class productions such as this to the community, keeping it free and open to anyone, even as it gets bigger and better every year.”

For more information on the concert, please call the Library at 626 403-7350 or for more information about the Eclectic Music Festival, a signature cultural showcase for South Pasadena residents and among the most popular of the many important arts and entertainment celebrations across the Greater East Side, visit http://theeclectic.rocks/

Concert doors open at 3 pm and no tickets or reservations are required. Free parking is available in the South Pasadena Unified School District lot at 1020 El Centro Street (entrance from Fairview Avenue between El Centro and Mission) and after 12:00 noon at the Mission Meridian Parking Garage located at 805 Meridian Avenue adjacent to the Metro Gold Line Station, only one block from the Library. Upon request, the City will provide a reasonable accommodation for a qualified person with a disability to have equal access to the event if reach with enough advance notice. Please contact ADA Coordinator and Human Resources Manager, Mariam Lee Ko, at (626) 403-7312 or fill out the City’s request form available at www.southpasadenaca.gov and email the form to Human Resources at HR@southpasadenaca.gov


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