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LuBossa Kicks Off Latin Rhythm Series with Two Voices, Guitar

by Mark Bialczak | 7 months ago

When Luba Lesser and Jason Kessler decided to mesh their musical talents to form the band LuBossa, something special happened.

The nylon strings of his guitar and the sound of his voice somehow fit perfectly with her vocal sound, Lesser thought.

Bossa nova, here they come.

LuBossa will kick off the Liverpool Public Library’s Latin Rhythms: From Samba to Santana series from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, in the Carman Community Room. Luber’s multi-language vocal work and Kessler’s guitar and voice will be joined by Tom Witkowski, who will play the bass lines on his keyboards and also bring his trombone.

Lesser describes the band’s sound as “bossa nova with maybe a little jazz. American jazz and European tunes, like a French cafe. I’ll sing in French. Spanish. A little Russian. Although there’s not much business with the crowd responding to the Russian.”

Kessler says the LPL set list will be heavy with songs from the book of Antonio Carlos Jobim, with Lesser singing in Portuguese the lyrics originally brought to the world by Astrud Gilberto, and he then singing in English.

“When I sing we tell the story of the song,” Kessler says.

It’s the rhythm of their vocal partnership that still fascinates Lubber.

“The Jobim tunes are a sound of their own,” she says. “It’s interesting that we have the female and male voices with me and him and then singing together, that’s rhythmically interesting with the two different languages. Rhythmically the languages are different, but it overlays beautifully. Our vocal qualities match. But our voices are not similar. It is just magic.”

When they play at clubs as a trio, they often use upright bass player Darryl Pugh as the third member.

“We are unique,” Kessler says. “We’re the only band in town that’s able to provide this type of ambiance. There are very few people playing classical guitar with nylon strings as the guts of a band like this. This town is based around local blues and retro stuff. Once people hear us, they say, ‘Why aren’t you guys out more?’ “

By summer, Lesser hopes, people will be able to hear their sound wherever they play an upcoming album. She, Kessler and Pugh recorded the main tracks intending to release it as a trio-based collection, then …

“We found things needed to be added,” Lesser said. “Percussion, voicing. (Percussionist) Josh Dekaney has recorded a track. (Saxophonist) Mike Dubaniewicz has already agreed to come in. It will sound like a fuller band. I like that.”

Meanwhile, Lesser continues to teach voice and piano as well as prepare for her dissertation for her Doctorate of Education. “I have two teenagers at home, one getting ready for college. Busy, yes,” she says. “The number of things I do is ridiculous.”

Kessler is happy to be returning to play in the Carman Community Room. “I played there four years ago with Darryl Pugh and Josh Dekaney on percussion, and what beautiful acoustics, wonderful colors to that room,” he says. “I’m happy in that room as a player or spectator. It’s so wonderful for acoustic music.”

The monthly series will continue with shows by Syracuse University Brazilian Ensemble Samba Laranja directed by Dekaney on Sunday, Feb. 16; singer-guitarist Colleen Kattau on Sunday, March 15; and band Grupo Pagan led by Edgar Pagan on Sunday, April 19.

Here's a look at a clip from the last concert in the Carman Community Room, the December show featuring Rod Blumenau's Dixieland Five.