Carmen Cuesta Record Comments
Since I can remember, music has been the centerpiece of my life. In Spain, as
a teenager, I was always involved in some kind of musical project and the
performing arts - regardless of the great efforts my parents exerted to keep me away from them. Coming to America to live with Chuck, meant an even greater
involvement with music, especially with the jazz world. It gave a new dimension to my life; not only I was away from home and newly wed, which was a challenge right there, I was also living with a musician, and everything we did was related somehow with music. I no longer had to worry about my parents opposition to a music career. I have been blessed with the musicians that I surrounded myself with, both in Spain and America. Music brought Chuck and I together, and is still the magic glue that keeps us going.
Chuck has been a great help to my music. At this point he can read my mind in
musical terms. He takes my rudimental piano or guitar and voice demos and ideas, and arranges them according to my wishes. It’s amazingly fun when we actually work together, which is surprisingly not as often as we wish. Even though it is harder, these days we record by ourselves at home and without an engineer. He comes later to help with the mixing and mastering. Being alone the two of us gives us more freedom to have differences of opinions, more time, more intimacy, better fights and leeway to express our emotions. Sometimes we cry together over lyrics or the way they are being sung. I am a very direct person, because I believe that only the truth can take you to places, some times I might seem heartless, but when I like something he knows I mean it.
Sometimes Chuck and I compose melodies together. Some of Chucks #1 hits on the radio we wrote together: “The Music Inside”, “Sarao”, “Blue Kiss”.... And I think that “Llevame” - which is also included on his latest CD “Presence” is going to be a hit as well, although I am not as good predicting hits of mine. I
In these twenty something years, Chuck’s career has gotten most of the attention, while I have chosen to remain in the background, doing what I felt was most important to me; creating a home and a family, raising our two daughters, studying English literature and writing songs. Music has been always the main ingredient in our lives. Through our home many great musicians have come and gone, recording, rehearsing or just to have a meal together (I love cooking and feeding people). Musicians have become my friends and my family. Now I would like to make song writing and performing the centerpiece of my life. All these years music has been the friend that I could always turn to whenever I needed to. Now it is time I give back to music.
“You Still Don’t Know Me”, my latest CD, has been in labor for a couple of years. Chuck has been very busy with other projects that actually pay our bills, and I am unpredictable and easily distracted by gardening, decorating and other aspects of regular living. These last years have also been especially frustrating in other ways, in terms of the Bush administration’s foreign policies and the entire World’s politics, and most distressing of all my father’s death. Everything around me affects me, and so, when the CD was completed I found it a bit gloomy, but what the heck! The world is pretty gloomy right now anyway. The most important thing is that every song comes from the heart, and that it also full of hope.
On this CD I have musicians that really matter to me. They are not only some of the best musicians in the world but they are also my friends. Each one makes a very special contribution to the song they play on; Till Broenner, Will Lee, Wolfgang Haffner and of course Chuck Loeb are some of the names you’ll recognize immediately. There is also a solo by the great Michael Brecker, who as most of you know recently passed away. I will speak more about him later.
And now the songs:
The opening song “Aclarate” (Be clear) is not necessarily autobiographical. It is a reaction about couples that aren’t clear with each other, playing mental games and never facing the truth. I see it in people that I know. I recognize the struggles that those attitudes cause, and how they always end up in divorce. Other ways, it is a breezy song with a very infectious groove. Chuck trades off quoting the melody and adding the solo with his signature jazz guitar sound.
“Llevame” (Take me there) is actually a very old song. Chuck and I wrote it together twenty-five years ago, when we had our first group called “Parallelo”. This song reminds me of that time. We used to play in a club in Greenwich
Village, New York, called “Seventh Avenue South”. It was a very famous Jazz club owned by the Brecker Brothers. Unfortunately it doesn’t exist any more. It was an amazing scene with world class musicians performing every single night. I even saw one night Whitney Houston singing background vocals for her mother, Cissy Houston years before she became a star. I got to meet and perform with many great musicians there.
“Rain” is an opportunity to have Will Lee doing “his thing”, and to have Chuck play the sitar. It’s a dreamy kind of song where sharing wins over loneliness.
“La Paz” (“Peace”) represents hope. Hope is always in the simple things, the ones we take for granted: the air , the sun, the water and all nature. Chuck wrote the music for this song, and Lizzy and I came up with the lyrics on a sunny morning over tea in the garden. It was a beautiful moment. Lizzy, my daughter sings the English lyrics. Her voice is velvet to my ears.
“Todo Para Ti” (Everything for you) is the love of a Mother, unconditional and without boundaries. I didn’t want to include the word “love” in the song, it would have been redundant. Michael Brecker plays the “EWI” (electric wind instrument) and he recorded his solo on this song during a long hard struggle with a serious illness he was going through, and ended up being one of the last recordings before his tragic death. His participation means the world to me. I love and admire him as a musician and a human being and my heart goes out to Susan, and his children in this time of loss for them. Hi is obviously solrely missed by Chuck and I and the entire music world.
“You Still Don’t Know Me”. It is unfortunate but truth, that there is always a possibility of being misunderstood by those you think know you best. It’s a feeling of defeat, helplessness and loneliness. The piano solo by Chuck is one of my favorites on the CD.
“I Am Thou” (Soy tu), is a desire to get back to nature, and get away from the man made world. The farther away we get from it, the closer we are with each other as human beings. Civilization separate us somehow, nature and truth bring people together. Till Broenner, once again, played a heart felt solo that fuses with the song as one.
“A Matter of Time”, was heavily influence by my fathers death. I never thought about how quickly life passes by. It has influenced the way I think and the way I live. Nothing really matters except the present time. There isn’t any time to be wasted on the past, and the future is made by the way we live the now.
Everything is in constant change, and what seems desirable today might be the cause of despair tomorrow. The beautiful sunset today would never repeat itself, so don’t miss it. Matt King, who adds accompaniment and solo here, is an excellent pianist that plays in Chuck’s band. I love his playing on this song.
“Tarde” (meaning “late”) is a song that, again, deals with braking up with somebody after a long relationship. I see it happening everywhere. The production of the song evolved over a long period of time, and we changed the arrangement several times. First it was just piano and it was much longer then we shortened it and used a modulation. The guitar solo by Chuck was improvised very quickly and eventually became part of the song. So I added a vocal chorus on top of it to connect it.
In the end it is neither just a solo, nor a chorus. The real solo happens at the end of the song, which was a moment in the studio that even includes noises from his guitar. These noises worked well with the song, so we kept them.
“Me Voy” (I’m leaving) is a song I composed and recorded when I was seventeen or eighteen years old. I was playing at a club in Madrid two summers ago, and someone brought me the record, one of those vinyl long plays. I was really happy because I had lost the only copy I had of it a long time ago. So I decided to rescue this song and recorded again. I left the arrangement very simple, just like the way I used to play it.
Originally I started the song “Religions” with parallel layers of chanting voices from different religions. I had a lot of fun doing this, but at the end we decided not to keep it. We didn’t want it to sound hokey or predictable. The tone of this song is dark. When I see the struggles that religions cause in the world, and how they are an excuse for hate and destruction, I feel that we are still in the “Dark ages”. The Holy wars are still going, almost a millennium after they started.
“You Still Don’t Know Me”, the title of this CD, means also that people out there don’t know me yet, because of the choice I made of staying in the background and not to perform live on regular basis. I am going to change this. As I said before, I want to go out and give back to music. I want to share my music with people in a more direct way, so they can Know me.
"Tip of the Month"
"With her lovely voice Carmen Cuesta stages what is at times a bewitching Latin mix including finely done arrangement ideas. 4 Stars."
"The album lives from its changes of pace: sometimes Bossa Nova, sometimes Jazz, traditional, Spanish, even the sound of Joni Mitchell. But above all this music thrives on Carmen Cuesta's trademark: her incredibly velvety-soft voice. Fans call it 'down feathers on naked skin'."
Audio Video Foto Bild 2'07:
"A solid tip for Norah Jones fans. Tasteful Jazz reveries."
Kultur News 1'07:
"Velvety-smooth arrangements with a few sparkling guitar riffs in between. Balladesque for the most part, as a whole its effect is casual and relaxed, though the emotional qualities displayed are undeniable."
Marie Claire 10/03:
"Quiet and dreamy, sensitively and frugally arranged. Nothing surpasses this voice, so velvety-soft and soulful."
Good Times 4/03:
"This crossover between Jazz, 'Pop with class' and fine craftsmanship is a must on the list to recommend. Hardly anyone else has such a skilled understanding of how to span the arc between dancing lightness and a relaxed, jazz-club atmosphere straight through to the melancholy of Spain and on to the sensuality of South American rhythms."
Jazz Podium 7/03:
"Interesting for everyone who likes well-made Pop music with Jazz aesthetics."
"Definitely an audiophile experience."
"Atmospherically yearning, audially brilliantly embellished ballads."
"Carmen Cuesta-Loeb has a charming understanding of how to stage sunny Pop with a multicultural touch or a lazy Jazz ambience."
Jazzzeit (Austria) 10/03:
"The crème de la crème of soft-sound sorceresses."
Morgenpost Hamburg June 24, 2003:
"A burst of happiness."
Stereoplay November '02 :
"Belongs to the finest around - Music 8 - Sound 9 - Repertoire 8."
WOM Journal November '02 :
"Her voice is like a down feather on naked skin. Jazz for cozy winter evenings on the woolly rug in front of the fireplace."
Black Music October '02 :
"A remarkably lovely album."
Jazz Podium October '02 :
AUDIO December '02 :
"Relaxed bar atmosphere and sunny Brazilian grooves."
Bella January '03 :
"Like Sade, Carmen Cuesta-Loeb has created a Pop style all her own. This is one CD you have to have."
CT Radio 96.9 Bochum (largest college radio in Germany) :
"Record Of The Month December 2002."
"Easy ... but sophisticated. A brilliant mixture of Pop and Jazz."
SAT 1 TV:
"Songs that are absolutely addictive."
"Between Latin beats, grooving Fusion-Jazz and sophisticated Pop songs, this American vocalist is well-versed in using her markedly sensual timbre to set the scene for her music."
Ya - Com Spain:
"Peace Of Mind" es un album mucho ... , mejor producido, variado en cuanto a la tematica ... , brillante en su resultado final.
"Aspiring Pop songs that breathe just the right dose of Jazz feeling."