In her most recent project, an exhaustive exploration of the voice as an instrument of texture and expression, Sofia Rei breaks away from the established continuity of her work, creating a daring new soundscape that blends South American folk with pop, electronic music and improvisation.
In a recent soul-searching trip to the Elqui Valley in Chile Sofía, equipped only with two back packs with recording equipment and her charango created the core of her newest musical venture: “Umbral” (Threshold). Her unorthodox compositions are built almost exclusively from vocal loops and incorporate the series “Cinco poemas cínicos” (Five Cynical Poems), in which the songwriter displays her natural inclination towards lyricism. Incisive and imaginative, Sofia’s poetry responds to heartbreak, deception and disappointment with unrestrained candor, elegant humor and a heavy dose of sarcasm.
Umbral’s band is comprised of some of the most talented musicians of the New Latin international scene. The album is set to be released in 2019 and is produced by world music luminary long-time collaborator JC Maillard (Lisa Fischer, Angelique Kidjo, Richard Bona, Touré Kunda)
Chilean singer, songwriter, folklorist, social activist, poet, and visual artist Violeta Parra would have celebrated her 100th birthday this year. In her new recording, El Gavilán, vocalist, songwriter and producer Sofia Rei celebrates her legacy by approaching her music with the imagination and daring that characterized Parra’s work.
Sofía re-imagines Parra’s music in a contemporary setting and records an album in duo with eclectic and adventoruous guitarist Marc Ribot and with the surprise participation of Angel Parra, Violeta’s grandson. Sofía also plays caja vidalera, a hand-held single head drum from Argentina’s northwest, and charango, a small, five double string guitar from the Andean region of South America. It is still, in essence, the classic folk voice-and-guitar arrangement, but framed by both, electronics and traditional instruments. The results — spacious and almost minimalist— illuminate Parra´s work from unexpected angles. Sofía built most of the song arrangements with only multilayered vocals sculptured as loops with effects and a wide range of textures creating a sonic landscape unique to each composition.
El Gavilán” is a thirteen-minute composition from Parra, closer to atonal academic music than to Latin American folklore, in which the pain and desperation of a devious love take flesh in a dissonant sonority and lyrics that resemble babbling, as if nothing was left to say other than what this disruptive and mourning music expresses. “El Gavilán” is also the piece that inspired this project. Violeta Parra’s body of work is a heritage to which one always returns, as her figure is the symbol of multiple artists: a woman, Latin American, a revolutionary, a lover. Firm and sensitive, militant and suffering, a compiler and a creator.
In 2018, an important story reaches its final chapter. For a quarter of a century, John Zorn’s Masada has been a consistently exciting and influential presence in the landscape of adventurous music, involving renowned artists such as Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Metheny, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Pat Metheny and many more. With this third and final songbook, The Book Beriah, the legendary composer concludes his exhaustive exploration of new Jewish music with ninety-two compositions over eleven albums, presented by some of the world’s most accomplished musicians.
In a unique project for voice and saz bass, longtime collaborators Sofia Rei and JC Maillard offer a superbly intimate and introspective study of the acclaimed source material. With lyrics by Rei and arrangements by both musicians, the songs explore a variety of topics, from love and solitude, to the ghost of Frida Kahlo and a childhood under the dictatorship in Argentina.
Award-winning vocalist and composer Sofia Rei has a longstanding history with Zorn’s Masada oeuvre. As part of the celebrated a cappella quartet, Mycale, she was featured on two albums in The Book of Angels. In Keter, the charismatic, classically trained songstress draws from her Argentinian roots as well as her experience with jazz to explore the music’s mystical undertones. With her profoundly contemplative poetry and a voice of cathartic scope, Rei manages to reveal previously undiscovered facets of these enchanting, esoteric tunes. An equally forceful presence, eclectic composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist JC Maillard plays the saz bass. Exceptionally suited for conveying the ethereal aura of these compositions, Maillard’s enigmatic instrument at once encourages and provokes Rei’s voice. A captivating duet of unprecedented synergy, Keter is a standout addition to the Masada catalog.
Jean-Christophe (JC) Maillard is a French composer, guitarist, pianist, electronic musician and arranger native of Pointe-à-Pître, Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. For the past 20 years, he has been touring, producing, arranging, acting as musical director and recording with all the great names in world music and world jazz. He has collaborated with Grammy wining artists such as Lisa Fischer, Angelique Kidjo, Richard Bona, Toure Kunda, etc. His project “Grand Baton”, an innovative mix of rock and electronic music with Caribbean percussions has released two albums which received praiseful reviews from all over the world, establishing him as a daring creative mind in cross genre music. JC is also known for mastering and being the first player of the SazBass, a new 8-steel string instrument of Turkish origin. More info at www.jcmaillard.com
Sofía Rei – Vocals, loops & charango.
JC Maillard – Saz bass, vocals.
Sofía Rei – Vocals
Jorge Roeder – Upright Bass
A new collection of unknown songs from every corner of the American continent, North and South, put together with Sofia’s longtime collaborator Jorge Roeder. They have been working together as a duo and in many configurations for over 14 years. Originally from Lima, Peru, New York City-based bass player Jorge Roeder is the co-artistic director and co-producer of all of Sofia’s albums and is also currently part of the Grammy-nominated Julian Lage Group, Shai Maestro Trio, Victor Prieto Trio, Ryan Keberle’s Catharsis, among others.
Mycale is a group of four vocalists-composers-arrangers, put together by Zorn in 2009 to create an A Cappella quartet that would collaboratively arrange selections from his Book of Angels compositions.
In 2004, Mac Arthur Fellow, composer and saxophonist John Zorn wrote over 300 new tunes for his popular Masada project. With these compositions he initiated a series of recordings featuring the best players out of the burgeoning Masada family, performing selections from Masada Book Two—The Book of Angels. This series includes artists such as Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Dave Douglas, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Marc Ribot, Erik Friedlander and more.
Expressive and passionate, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb (Israel), Sofia Rei (Argentina), Sara Serpa (Portugal) and Malika Zarra (Morocco) are four of the most creative vocalists around.
Each a band-leader, composer, arranger and improviser in her own right, they come together here in an intimate setting to interpret Zorn’s music and give it the flavors of their diverse cultural backgrounds. With lyrics in Hebrew, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic drawn from Rumi, Fernando Pessoa, Heraclitus, The Hebrew Bible and more, the Masada vocal project is hailed as one of the most hauntingly beautiful installments in the entire Angels series.
Mycale performs internationally, including recent performances at New York’s Metropolitan Museum (as part of the epic Zorn@60 event), Adelaide Festival in Australia, Re:Voice Festival in London, Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada and Beit Avichai Cultural Center in Israel. Ayelet’s Jewish-Hebrew roots meet Sofia’s South American folkloric sound, Sara’s Portuguese intricate lines and Malika’s Moroccan muses.
Together they sing Zorn’s music like you’ve never heard it before.