The sultry and rhythmic sounds of Brazilian bossa nova music are coming to the Mansion on Forsyth Park on Jan. 19 as Savannah Jazz hosts acclaimed jazz guitarist Duda Lucena.
Raised in Brazil, and now living in Charleston, Lucena has made a name for himself on the jazz circuit seamlessly blending Brazilian standards with a love for American jazz guitar and composers.
He’s bringing a quartet with him to the Mansion, including piano, guitar, bass and drums, for a night of sambas and jazz improvisation featuring English and Portuguese standards, sprinkled with improvisation.
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“It’s a mix of different things,” Lucena said. “A lot of bossa nova – that’s always about some love situation, the music is very sweet, but also some samba jazz and some Brazilian rhythms that people might not be familiar. It’s upbeat and tells stories about the regions.”
Lucena was born in Recife, Brazil, a large coastal town on the northeast side of the country. He says his father would entertain friends and family by playing classic Brazilian songs on the guitar. It sparked an interest in music in Lucena as a young boy.
“It was always ‘don’t touch my guitar’ and that’s the worst thing you can tell a kid,” Lucena recalls. “And of course, I started playing it and fell in love with the guitar and now I love it. It’s what I do. It’s what I am.”
Lucena studied classical guitar and received his musical training from the distinguished Conservatorio Pernambucano de Musica. He held his first concert at Museu da Cidade do Recife, and later, performed at the Teatro do Parque and Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre.
From there, Lucena set out for Rio de Janeiro, studying harmony, arrangement and composition at Centro Ian Guest de Aperfeicoamento Musical, a music school based on the curriculum of the esteemed Berklee College of Music.
Lucena credits Brazil’s bossa nova superstars as among his influences including the famed Antonio Carlos Jobim, who won the first Grammy award for jazz with his hit “The Girl from Ipanema.” But Lucena is equally as fond of, and influenced by experimental American jazz guitarists.
“Pat Metheny, Joe Pass – some of the great jazz guitar players,” Lucena added. “And the great Oscar Peterson on piano.”
It was while on tour in Los Cabos, Mexico, he met his future wife, a Charleston, S.C., native. Sparks flew, and now Lucena lives stateside with his family, traveling the country regularly to bring his unique take on jazz guitar to eager audiences.
Lucena is a regular player with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, and has been featured on numerous jazz programs including XM Sirius Radio’s Real Jazz Show.
He says he’s always excited to return to Savannah and looks forward to bringing his Brazilian flair to jazz fans thanks to Savannah Jazz, which hosts monthly concerts and its annual jazz festival to share the group’s love for jazz music.