Album Review of
Passion - Latin Jazz

Written by Joe Ross
December 20, 2019 - 12:18am EST
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Originally from Venezuela, Raquel Cepeda made a big career change when she moved from geological engineer in the oil industry to jazz vocalist in 2015. Now based out of Houston, Cepeda is building a strong fan base. Her sweet voice is filled with assurance as she sings atop an all-star Latin ensemble. Many of the numbers give the musicians an up-tempo workout and plenty of chances to shine with dazzling displays of improvisation. The rhythmic intensity of “Moliendo Café” drives that song, while “Berimbau” conveys a haunting vision and traditional spirit. The four Raquel Cepeda compositions feature her multi-linguistic approach to songwriting and performance and her approach in “From Afar” and “Your Return” conveys a sensibility that is respectful of tradition yet creative and current. Cepeda’s poignant messages and inspirations, whether sung in Spanish, Portuguese or English, have wide appeal. Refusing to be constrained by cultural boundaries, the band closer combines Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” with a grooving “Quimbara.” The music has boundless energy, and Cepeda pulls off the vocalizing with aplomb as she makes personal moving statements, straight from her heart. “Passion” is a powerful, exciting set of Latin jazz music.   (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)