DO’A, singer-guitarist-pianist-composer and, well, mathematician, has just released a soulful debut album titled High Grounds with jazz label Outside in Music. Known for her emotional integrity, the multi-hyphenate artist taps into a deep well of sound to produce what she calls “melodies for the soul.”
It is a musical melting pot of Albanian folk music, jazz, samba and Latin American rhythms, carried by the accompanists she has embarked. They include popular jazz pianists Shai Maestro, Nando Michelin and Harold López-Nussa, as well as trumpeter Mayquel Gonzalez, bassist Julio Cesar Gonzalez and percussionists Ruy Adrian López-Nussa and Shango Dely.
The music on the heights is undoubtedly compelling. She says, “My style of composition is largely based on feeling and intuition. From the way music ‘comes to me’ when I write my own compositions, to the collaborations I decide to get into, a lot of it is based on inspiration and an openness to being guided in the right direction.”
One of the highlights is “Flor de Lis”, the album opener by Brazilian samba master Djavan. With Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa and his band at his side, DO’A combines the harmonic and melodic sensibilities of samba with Cuban flair to create a unique, multicultural version of this beloved tune. Another strong title is DO’A’s interpretation of the Argentinian song “Alfonsina y la Mar”, made famous by Mercedes Sosa. Uruguayan pianist Nando Michelin is an ideal support for DO’A as her rich voice floats atop the shimmering keys. “Pranvera” pairs DO’A with Israeli pianist Shai Maestro and both leans towards emotive and technical creativity.
There are three higher ground originals, all based lyrically on Baha’i writings. Musically, all three (“Krijim”, “Unidad” and “Lampara”) stand side by side with the covers, highlighting DO’A’s strong abilities as a songwriter.
The only American standard on the album is “I Fall In Love Too Easily”. Another duet with Michelin, the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn song is a beautiful centerpiece of the album, with crystal-clear vocals and an emotive improvised section halfway through.
Graceful, nuanced and musically rich, the higher pitches introduce a bright new voice to the stage. DO’A will perform at Blues Alley in Washington, DC on October 10, with more shows hopefully on the horizon soon.