When: Fri., Nov. 18, 8:30 p.m. 2016
Portuguese jazz singer Sara Serpa possesses a preternatural cool, injecting weightless sophistication and melodic grace into everything she touches. Her voice first worked its way into my head through her minimalist collaborations with pianist Ran Blake, where she tackles standards with stunning directness in response to her accompanist’s harmonic obliqueness, but her duo with guitarist André Matos (who’s also her husband) shows a very different side of her imagination, though the clarity and chill precision of her delivery remain consistent. The latter pair’s first album, 2014’s Primavera (Inner Circle Music), kept one foot in jazz tradition while pursuing icy ethereality through meticulous arrangements in which voice and guitar connect to generate crystalline sonic objects. And they make a huge leap with their remarkable second album All the Dreams (Sunnyside), for the most part ditching lyrics in favor of wordless explorations that convey both the airy fragility of bossa nova and the easy-listening gloss of the Free Design. The melodies are stunning in their frosty eloquence, and the floating layers of guitar, piano, and percussion convey a world of depth and complexity belied by the honesty of the performances—this is music both hauntingly familiar and completely otherworldly.