Currently based in NYC, Chilean musician Camila Meza made her San Diego debut on December 3, with a two-set house-capacity performance at the Athenaeum’s new Logan Heights outlet in the multi-arts venue Bread & Salt. Meza led a seasoned quartet, featuring pianist James Francies, bassist Or Bareket, and drummer Jeremy Dutton.
Francies led off “Silencio” with a pastel flurry as Meza proved to be a double threat on both guitar and a soaring soprano voice that floated into the rafters. Meza handles lyrics in English, Spanish, and Portuguese with equal parts pathos and clarity, and on Djavan’s “Amazon Farewell,” her limber vocals were almost upstaged by some spidery fingering and deft guitar work. She really tore it up on the Jobim classic “Caminhos Cruzados,” with burning George Benson-esque fretwork and an ability to hit the high notes with solid intonation. “Violette,” built from a trance-like vamp into a flowing piano feature and an explosive drum solo that had the crowd roaring in approval.
The sound in the new Athenaeum space was superb, allowing each instrument to be heard with detail and attention to dynamics. In the end, it was Meza’s simple guitar and voice arrangement of “Little Person,” from the Phillip Seymour Hoffman movie Synecdoche, that proved most effective. Halting and lyrical, it’s still in my head.
Concert: Camila Meza Quartet
Date: December 3
Venue: Athenaeum Art Center at Bread & Salt
Seats: 2nd row, stage left