Singer and guitarist Camila Meza comes from the jazz world—she studied jazz guitar at the New School in New York City and counts Pat Metheny and George Benson as key influences—but she also comes from Santiago, Chile. Her new recording, Ambar began as an unlikely Kickstarter campaign, unlikely because jazz musicians don’t normally make it big by recording with string quartets. Ultimately, however, Meza and the recording were signed by Sony Masterworks. And while her “Nectar Orchestra” is eight musicians—a jazz quartet (guitar, piano, bass, drums) and a string quartet (violins, viola, cello)—the sound of the band is more like a rushing stream or a bird sailing through the air.
“Kallfu”, composed by Meza, features her singing in Spanish over an arrangement that sounds nothing like classical music and only a bit like old-school jazz. The string quartet begins, playing a rhythmic pattern that launches the whole band into a percussion-happy flow. After the song form is completed, Meza solos on clean-toned jazz guitar while singing wordlessly in unison with herself. The song surges and relaxes, including a few slower, lyrical section that explodes again into momentum. Not jazz, not classical music, not any kind of standard “world music” either, the music on Ambar is the result of many musical traditions merging to create something fresh and uplifting, something to carry you into summer and out into a wider world.
Ambar releases on 31 May via Sony Masterworks.