Some musicians don’t have to expend much effort to achieve radiance. Camila Meza is one of these — a singer-songwriter and improvising guitarist originally from Santiago, Chile, and now a luminous fixture on the scene in New York. Ámbar, her major-label debut, just out on Masterworks, captures the deep synthesis in her music, with a chamber-jazz cohort she calls the Nectar Orchestra.
For this Jazz Night in America concert video, Meza convened the Nectar Orchestra in a Brooklyn loft for a small audience of friends. The intimacy of the setting perfectly suits her jewel-like vocal tone, as well as the breathing string arrangements by bassist Noam Weisenberg.
Bookended by originals “Kallfu,” written in tribute to the indigenous Mapuche people of Southern Chile, and “Ámbar,” a song of healing, the concert also features versions of two touchstone Brazilian songs, “Milagre Dos Peixes” (Fernando Brant/Milton Nascimento) and “Olha Maria” (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Chico Buarque/Vinícius de Moraes).
Meza also expresses earnest sociopolitical ideals in a song with English lyrics: “This Is Not America.” David Bowie recorded it with the Pat Metheny Group in 1985, the year Meza was born. She not only rises to the song’s challenge; she makes its anguish feel as if it emanates from her core. Not to mention the hyper-articulate guitar solo she fashions — just one of several reasons her performance feels aglow.
Camila Meza: guitar and voice; Eden Ladin: keyboard and piano; Noam Weisenberg: bass; Keita Ogawa: drums and percussion; Ludovica Burtone: violin; Tomoko Omura: violin; Leonor Falcon: viola; Brian Sanders: cello
Producers: Colin Marshall, Alex Ariff, Concert Recording Engineer: David Tallacksen; Concert Video Director: Colin Marshall; Videographers: Tsering Bista, Annabel Edwards, Kara Frame, Nickolai Hammar, Kimani Oletu, Alicia Zheng; Editor: Annabel Edwards; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producers: Colin Marshall, Katie Simon; Supervising Editors: Keith Jenkins, Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman, Amy Niles; Funded in Part By: The Argus Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, Wyncote Foundation