January 2008

Sofia Koutsovitis
January 10, 2008 Lula Lounge Toronto
Sofia Koutsovitis Lets Us Figure It Out
by Tova G. Kardonne with photo by Roger Humbert
Latin Jazz at Lula: that’s all I knew about Sofia Koutsovitis’ show before I went to see her last Thursday, January 10. That, and the fact that she had performed at the IAJE conference earlier which, in case you didn’t know, is a scary thing for any young jazz musician to do. Yet a scant few hours later, a serene and smiling Sofia beguiled a full house with a grace and playfulness that placed her above those new-kid insecurities, and bade us all to focus our full attention on the intricacies and seductions of her music.
Full attention was definitely required. Her tuneful, lyrical melodies were often underpinned by rhythmic and harmonic structures of considerable complexity. In fact, some of the groove transitions in the first tune, “Ojala,” seemed a touch incongruous, if only because each one was itself so structured and distinct. The virtuosity of her composition emerged more clearly in the second piece, “Instante de Vos,” where she deftly combined an odd-time bass line and a rhythmically displaced melody. Daniel Blake achieved a superb blend with Sofia’s earthy alto in playing harmony lines behind her on soprano sax.

There’s a lot to love in her set. The odd-time junkie in me got the itch scratched by the 19-beat-cycle of “Imaginaria,” while the party animal got revved by the jinga of “Flor de Lis,” her samba number. Opening up the latter tune, we got a good listen to the amazing sensitivity of guitarist Lionel Loueke. Pulling a good samba out of the air on a guitar takes some heavy time-feel; hats off. In the most exposed tune of the evening, a ballad called “O Cantador” accompanied only by solo guitar, Sofia and Lionel felt their way around each other’s phrasing, creating a beautifully expressive duet that was enriched by the seeming tentative moments.

Sofia Koutsovitis
Koutsovotis sings a varied, engaging set, with plenty to dance to, plenty to get down with, and plenty to think about. She’s going for an ambitious goal: original, creative, and technically challenging music that’s as exciting to a Bacchanalian crowd as to the ivory tower listener. Going from IAJE to Lula Lounge that day, in all likelihood, she met a little of each.
We welcome your comments and feedback
Tova G. Kardonne
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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