Duda Lucena Quartet: "Live"

July 2011

Duda Lucena QuartetGentle South American Rhythms and Intimate Vocals Prove Perfect for Summer

Self released
Format: CD

Musical Performance
Sound Quality
Overall Enjoyment

Hearing Duda Lucena and his well meshed quartet is like eating at that restaurant we all go to when we want something reliable. We might not be moved to ask for the recipe, but we'll be completely satisfied. Lucena sings in such an intimate manner that it's almost like he's singing to each individual listener. There were no fireworks on the album, but I came away from it happy and content as can be. Essential to the relaxed, low-key mood of the music are its gently swaying samba and maracatu influences, with a sprinkling of bossa nova. The gentle sounds depend on subtle, solid delivery; vocal histrionics would ruin them. Another key factor in the warmth and coziness is the Portuguese language, which is seldom harsh or biting.

Lucena, born in Pernambuco, Brazil, seems to have the language and music in his blood. He's upfront as singer and guitarist, and his backing musicians, Quentin Baxter on drums, Kevin Hamilton on acoustic bass, and Gerald Gregory on piano, all play impeccably to complete Lucena's lead. Each of these supporting partners is given a solo riff somewhere during the disc's seven cuts, and each aces his opportunity to shine. The album contains one original by Lucena ("Sol") and a half-dozen songs by genre giants such as Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Corcovado"), Gilberto Gil ("Drào"), and Caetano Veloso ("Odara" and "Trilhos Urbanos").

All the songs were recorded live, but the audience is either very polite or cut out by a discrete sound design, as you can hear them only during the applause at the end of each number. The balance among the four players is perfect, and I never felt that anyone should be brought forward or softened. They're just right as they are.

This live album is a perfect summertime recording to soothe flaring tempers set loose by extreme heat. Lucena now makes his home in the Charleston area, where lucky South Carolinians (and tourists) get to hear him every Wednesday from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Charleston Grill at Charleston Place. He also plays other locations in the Charleston area and a few in Rio. In the meantime, everyone can sample Lucena's art through this self-released disc, which is for sale at Amazon.com.

Be sure to listen to: In the opening of the last cut, "Odara," Lucena's four low notes are almost breathed rather than sung, with perfect pitch and intimacy.

. . . Rad Bennett

More SoundStage! Videos

  • SoundStage! Encore: Combating Crosstalk, with David Chesky (February 2020)
  • SoundStage! Expert: Sonus faber Olympica Nova Speakers - 1) General Care (February 2020)
  • SoundStage! Expert: Sonus faber Olympica Nova Speakers - 2) Grille Care (February 2020)
  • SoundStage! Expert: Sonus faber Olympica Nova Speakers - 3) Cleaning (February 2020)
  • SoundStage! Shorts: Rockport Technologies' Speaker Drivers (February 2020)
  • SoundStage! Shorts: Rockport's Custom Crossover Calibration (Dec. 2019)
  • SoundStage! InSight: Inside the World of McIntosh Townhouse (December 2019)
  • SoundStage! Encore: Listening with Your Eyes, with David Chesky (December 2019)
  • SoundStage! Encore: Recording Drums, Part 3 - The Mix (June 2019)
  • SoundStage! Encore: Recording Drums, Part 2 - Loel Campbell on Setting Up Drums (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Encore: Recording Drums, Part 1 - Philosophy (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Encore: Henkka Niemistö on the Role of a Mastering Engineer (December 2018)
  • SoundStage! Encore:
  • SoundStage! Encore: Vincent Bélanger and the Hornpipe Cello (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! Encore:
  • SoundStage! Expert: All About Headphones and Earphones (Episodes 1-5)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Rockport Technologies Lyra Loudspeaker (November 2019)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Sonus faber Olympica Nova at World of McIntosh Townhouse (October 2019)
  • SoundStage InSight - Rockport Technologies Past, Present, Future (September 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert: Basics of Solid-State Class-AB Amplifiers (Episodes 1-5)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -  Paradigm's Dual Voice Coils (July 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Audio Research's CD6SE and CD9SE CD Players (May 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 1) Why You Need One (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 2) Cartridge Types (April 2019)