It took several tries over the course of a decade for Luciana Souza to convince Leonard Cohen to let her set several poems from his 2006 volume, “The Book of Longing” to music, but the Brazilian singer doesn’t give up easily.
One of jazz’s most acclaimed vocalists, she’s made her mark as a composer by setting verse to music, particularly poems by Elizabeth Bishop and Pablo Neruda. Negotiating with a living poet proved much more complicated, “but I’m so stubborn,” she says.
Her 2015 album “Speaking In Tongues” featured two songs she wrote from Cohen poems, but she saved the bulk of her Cohen pieces, including the title track, for her new album “The Book of Longing” (Sunnyside). Souza will focuses on songs from the breathtaking release, which also features ballads she composed for poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Emily Dickinson, at Bay Area performances Nov. 29 and 30.
“I do the entire record, but I intersperse my songs with some more rhythmic and energetic pieces by Hermeto Pascoal, Milton Nascimento, and Caetano Veloso for some contrast and variety,” says Souza, a longtime Los Angeles resident who’s touring with the great Brazilian guitarist/composer Chico Pinheiro and bass master Scott Colley.
“Chico is so modern yet so steeped in traditional Brazilian music,” she says. “In performance I play a triangle or pandeiro, and I wanted a guitarist comfortable creating these grooves without a drummer. I needed someone who can also create textures and orchestrate. I’ve made a couple of records with Scott, and he’s a fearless improviser who also sets things up so beautifully. They’re both so busy I have to wait until they’re available, but they’re worth it.”
Details: 7 p.m. Nov. 29 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz; $31.50-$36.75; 831-427-2227,www.kuumbwajazz.org; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco (presented by San Francisco Performances); $45-$70; 415-392-2545, sfperformances.org.
Singer Luciana Souza brings Leonard Cohen project two SF Bay Area shows