Natures Princess (Princesa de la Naturaleza)
Maria Marquez is a Venezuela-born vocalist now living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her album, Natures Princess (Princesa de la Naturaleza), is a disarming mix of Brazilian music and jazz, all sung in her native tongue.
So, to the listener who doesn’t speak the language (and who doesn’t care to sit by the CD player with the English translations thoughtfully provided), what the songs are supposed to be about becomes subordinate to the way they make us feel. As it happens, this is not a bad thing at all. I am necessarily limited to hearing how she sounds without knowing what she means (or perhaps that’s not so limiting after all). So the singer becomes, even more so than under ordinary circumstances, only another instrument, albeit a featured member of the band.
Marquez’s voice, like the ghost of Billie Holiday living in the sax of a skillful player, lends the songs an ageless quality. The selections span centuries of (mostly) Venezuelan writers, including two by the singer herself. Marquez also produced the album, and some of the rich arrangements are her work as well; the settings are uniquely extraordinary.
I don’t understand a word of this, but I like it. And I suppose I don’t need to fully understand it (music, universal language, and all that). It’s a recording that is immediately charming, never less than pleasant, often lovely and on more than one occasion quite beautiful.
Maria Marquez: www.mariamarquez.com