Carmen Souza ‘The Silver Messengers’ CD (Galileo) 4/5

“Musical composition should bring happiness and joy to people and make them forget their troubles.”

With such a positive and affirmative life perspective, it’s easy to see why the music of legendary jazz pianist and composer, Horace Silver, resonated with so many people as deeply as it did. As a pioneer of the hard bop style, much of Silver’s legacy rests in not only his innumerable recordings but the impact his teachings had on artists he nurtured through his bands for decades.

And for singer, songwriter, musician and composer, Carmen Souza, ‘The Silver Messengers’ is very much a celebration of Silver’s music and the indelible impact his compositions and projects have gone on to inspire within her own affections for jazz.

Souza’s career in of itself has been a remarkable one thus far. With this album serving as her ninth album release, the Lisbon, Portuguese-born artist actually shares her Cape Verdean heritage with Horace Silver, whose father, John Tavares Silver, was born in Maio, Cape Verde. Throughout Souza’s career, hers has really proved to boast an inimitable style – a fusion of genres and styles including contemporary jazz, Cape Verdean rhythms and Creole-written lyrics delivered through a dynamic vocal style, and all developed with the assistance of bass player and long-standing musical collaborator, Theo Pascal.

Of the eleven tracks presented on ‘The Silver Messengers’, while several of the songs contain lyrics penned by Souza over Horace’s compositions, Souza and Pascal have lovingly included two original non-Horace Silver tracks which were created in tribute to their subject, ‘Lady Musika’ and ‘Silver Blues’. The latter of which makes a nice album closer as the Souza-penned lyrics surmise her own affections for Silver’s music. Although a song that had been recorded and released some years prior, the reworked ‘Song For My Father’ is probably the number that would generate the most interest amongst fans – a song covered by Madlib and Leon Thomas, sampled by Steely Dan and Us3 – the result is nothing short of the album’s highlight.

Often noted for paying respects to musical heroes through her own recordings like in 2014’s ‘Live at Lagny Jazz Festival’, which saw Carmen tackle songs by Charlie Parker and Yves Montand, ‘The Silver Messengers’ delivers as the ultimate tribute. The album’s title itself serves very much as a call back to the seminal 1956 Blue Note Records release pairing Silver with drummer Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and, here, Souza and her musicians including Pascal on bass, Benjamin Burrell on piano and Elias Kacomanolis on drums, openly declare to carrying the torch as the new Messengers and purveyors of Silver’s legacy, spreading the word far and wide, and also bringing it back to its Cape Verdean roots.

Imran Mirza

Read also:
Carmen Souza ‘Live at Lagny Jazz Festival’ CD + DVD (Galileo/Jazz Pilon) 4/5
Carmen Souza ‘Kachupada’ CD (Galileo) 4/5