Young Titina grew up next door to the adult Francisco Xavier da Cruz whose stage name was B. Leza, a musician who left a significant thumbprint on Cape Verdean morna—he was also Cesaria Evora’s uncle. Titina used to go around and sing with him. On one hand that’s a good start to a music career, on the other hand it means that comparisons to Evora are going to dog you forever. But it’s hard to play that game with Titina Canta B. Leza because the songs she’s chosen are not the kinds of songs that Evora usually released.
Less opportunity for creaminess in the picks here, less of the sustained mourning tone, a little more inclination toward itchy Brazilian dance. (This is happy news for anyone who used to complain that Evora released the same thing over and over again and it’s bad news for those who like to wallow in saudade. Some Cape Verde albums are wallowing-sadness albums. This one is only a part-wallow.) She made the recording in 1988, three decades after Leza’s death, and Sterns Africa is re-releasing it now after a good remastering from Astral Music. The sound is sepia, with a rounded mellow old-worldishness particularly apparent in the opening track, “Terra Longe”.
// Notes from the Road
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