By jazzman - Feb 18th, 2009 - Category
January 27th, 2009 marked the release of jazz vocalist Luba Mason's album Krazy Love. Her second album, it executes a cool, Brazilian mood with an intimate acoustic sound. Enhanced by well-known Brazilian musician Renato Neto on piano & keyboards (also pianist for the legendary musician, Prince), Luba is joined by top-notch bassist Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), percussionist Cassio Duarte, Sandro Albert on guitar and Marco Costa on drums, with guest performances by the world renowned Hubert Laws as well as her husband, Latin great Ruben Blades.
All Your Jazz had the opportunity to speak with Luba about the release of her new album and find out more about her inspirations for the project. In addition, we learned more about her career as a talented actor, musician, and Broadway performer. Hope you enjoy!
Mike: Your new album Krazy Love is coming from a different direction from your first album. Have you done anything like this before?
Luba: No, I haven't. This is really only my 2nd album. My first album, Collage, was basically an album of covers. It was a very eclectic bunch of songs, and that's why I named it Collage. The closest I've really gotten to the music that is featured on the new album was a cover of The Look of Love, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. I did it in Spanish, and I got a lot of reaction from that song. That's what propelled me to continue singing in this style of music. Brazilian music, which I was first turned on to about 10 years ago by my husband, really appealed to me. I fell in the love with The medlodies and the rhythms, and I knew I wanted to do more recording in this style. It felt like the right time to do an album devoted completely to this Brazilian jazz style, and the singing style suits me very well.
Mike: Yes, I would agree. Your vocals sound very natural.
Luba: Yeah, it's in the lower part of my voice. It's very natural for me to live there.
Mike: Can you talk a little bit about the influence that your co-producer Renato Neto had on your production of this album?
Luba: He's originally from San Paulo, Brazil, and he was my collaborator on this project. He co-wrote some of the songs, wrote the arrangements, as well as playing the keyboard and piano parts. He's a wonderful musician and just great to work with. He's very versatile, having played in many styles- funk, jazz, R&B, pop, just about anything. He's very talented, and I was so luck to have found him for this project. One thing that made this whole is experience so enjoyable was that fact that we worked really well together. It isn't that often that you find a collaborator to work with that helps make the music come so easily. Just about everything we threw at each other seemed to work, and that definitely made the experience so great.
Mike: You bring up a very important when talking about collaborating with someone on a project. It should be an enjoyable experience.
Luba: Yeah, and another thing that was great about this production was the fact that it wasn't put together in a month. The whole thing took about 2 years, and we had time to get together when we wanted and work on the material. Nothing was forced, and we had time to let the music settle. We worked on something, and after a couple of months, we got back together and saw if we still liked what was going on. We could then determine if it was something we wanted to go with or improve on.
Mike: Are you singing in Spanish or Portuguese on this album?
Luba: Most of the tracks are actually in English. I do have one song,Olhos Nos Olhos, that I sing in Portuguese and one that I did as a duet with my husband, Com Esse Que Eu Vou. For that one, my husband is actually singing in Portuguese, and I am singing in English. It's a lovely, kind of flirty duet. The entire album Krazy Love comments various up and downs that one encounters in a relationship, and Brazilian music really lends itself to to those themes.
Mike: I see that you have done many different things throughout your career. I was wondering if you could you talk a little bit about some of the other things you have done?
Luba: Well, I started out as a classical pianist actually. I also sang in the church choir as well as with the high school choir. Musicals came into my life at the end of high school, and I then decided to study drama at NYU. I already had so much training in music, so I wanted to couple it with acting because musical theater was the direction I wanted to go in at that time. I also started taking dance lessons, practicing almost 8 hour a day. The American Dance Machine, which is affiliated with NYU, is where I was taking lessons, and I was really fortunate to have been hired by the founder of the company. She took me under her wing, so I was dancer for about 5 years. Then I got into Broadway, which was really my first dream. I ended up performing there for 15 years, and I loved every minute of it.
Mike: It seems like that kind of role would be an excellent opportunity to combine all of your talents into one.
Luba: Absolutely, people often refer to the triple threat, being able to sing, act, and dance. Those roles, though physically demanding - especially with the schedules that they have you on - were so fun and so rewarding. I would love to go back and do another Broadway show. I am pretty happy, though, that in the meantime there is another way for me to express myself and perform. This project, Krazy Love, has really allowed me to work on my writing and singing in a way that I otherwise would not be able to do.
Mike: How did the transition from Broadway to jazz take place? Was it spontaneous, or did it naturally evolve?
Luba: It wasn't really a planned transition. I think that one of the important things that played a role was when my husband and I moved from New York out to Los Angeles. While L.A. does have theater, I didn't find myself in touch with that kind of community here. I did get some acting work here when I first came over; however the work wasn't as full as when I was in Broadway shows. The schedule wasn't as demanding, and I found myself having a lot more time on my hands. My husband, Ruben Blades, who has written over 22 albums, mentioned that it might be a good time for me to do my album - because it was always a dream of mine. So, that is when I put out my first album Collage. And the success from that made we want to put out another one, and that's where I am right now. So, the transition wasn't necessarily planned, that's just kind of the way life happened.
Mike: Do you think you will be pursuing another Brazilian jazz album in the future?
Luba: I will definitely stick with jazz, and I might decide to put out another Brazilian jazz album. I'm not quite sure yet. It might be in another style of jazz, but yes, I definitely plan to work on another album in the future. I want to continue writing and recording because I really enjoy it. I wouldn't mind going back and doing another show on Broadway in the future either.
Mike: Well, it is always a good thing to be versatile.
Luba: Yes, and a lot of those talents work with each other. For example, singing requires acting, in my mind. Those two go hand in hand. Everything helps out in the long run.
Mike: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I look forward to future albums, and I wish you much success with your current one.
Luba: Thank you.
By jazzman - Feb 18th, 2009 - Category