The thought of giving it all up in pursuit of a passion is one of the most romantic notions in human existence. Thoughts of workers in dead-end jobs quitting to play guitar in smoky nightclubs are ripe with the potential for legendary prose, as their natural pursuit of art remains the envy of us all.
Kat Parra embodies that very natural pursuit, having left her job as a graphic designer to pursue her passion for singing and music composition. In the small span of time since, Parra has created two acclaimed records and has performed at a host of venues across the United States, Brazil, and Mexico.
Her third record, Dos Amantes, furthers Parra’s journey by exploring a musical tradition that few have any familiarity with. The album touches on the music of the Sephardic Jews, illuminating the art and history of the group of people from the Iberian Peninsula. The journey of these Jews, who travelled from Spain to North Africa and the New World, is explored through Parra’s dazzling musical interpretations.
Dos Amantes finds Parra interpreting the Sephardic tradition elegantly. Using the language of Ladino, she is able to bring the Spanish Jews to life with a dramatic arrangement of words from Hebrew, Turkish, and Arabic.
Along with Parra’s beautiful rendering of the words, the album features her newest ensemble. The Sephardic Music Experience faithfully intones the style with warmth and colour. Featuring Peter Barshay (acoustic bass), Paul van Wageningen (drums), Katja Cooper (percussion), Masaru Koga (flute), Murray Low (keyboards), and Stephanie Antoine (violin), this ensemble pulls off some incredible things.
Like the travelling Sephardic Jews, Parra’s journey through various traditions and cultures are what makes Dos Amantes strong. She coasts through a snappy David Pinto-arranged flamenco on “En La Mar” and quickly transitions out of it to launch a smooth Afro-Peruvian Lando (“Fiestaremos”).
Traditional Sephardic world jazz is the order of the day on the title track and on “Una Matika De Ruda,” the latter of which is a terrifically arranged traditional piece featuring Ravi Gutala on tablas.
Embodying the pursuit of passion and melding it with the search of the Sephardic Jews for home, Dos Amantes is a delightfully poetic and poignant piece of work. Parra’s voice captures haunting, lasting tones and travels like a spirit over foreign lands, offering tenderness and warmth to every spot she touches.