Brazilian-born singer, guitarist, and composer Duda Lucena is on a journey he embarked upon at the age of 12 when he began composing tunes on his first acoustic guitar. These days, he’s stationed in Charleston and, fortunately for local world-music lovers, seems in no hurry to take the next step down the road.
In the 1980s, Lucena studied at the Music Conservatory of Pernambuco and started performing in theatres and clubs throughout his hometown of Recife (the capital city of the Northeast state of Pernambuco). In 1987, he relocated to Rio de Janeiro and studied musical arrangement and composition and harmony at CIGAM, a school affiliated with the Berklee College of Music. Shortly after, he began traveling around the world, playing with various musicians from the Americas and Europe.
Duda’s own music is based on a blend of Brazilian styles — the bossa nova, baião, and samba — along with folk, reggae, jazz, and blues from the U.S. His recorded material features him on vocals (he sings in Portuguese, of course) and acoustic guitar with tasteful accompaniment (woodwind, electric bass, drums, electric guitar, vocal harmonies).
Some may simply refer to it as “musica popular Brasiliera,” but the catch-all phrase doesn’t fit so easily. While his more traditional Brazilian material grooves with an authentic syncopation, the jazzier stuff leans toward a 4/4 George Benson style — clean, funky, romantic. Lucena’s singing style is warm (think Seu Jorge), his baritone voice rich and almost sleepy. At his raspiest, he resembles Jonathan Richman and Joe Strummer.
Lucena delivered a rousing set during the Charleston Jazz Society’s first anniversary event at Gallery Chuma in July. He performs a free concert at the Jazz Vespers Series at the Circular Congregational Church (150 Meeting St.) on Sun. Oct. 14 from 6-7 p.m. — T. Ballard Lesemann