Women have made huge strides in what has historically been a male-dominated music scene. No matter the genre—from punk and country to rock and pop—females don't have much left to prove. Still, jazz remains a bit of a boy's club, and while there are certainly legendary women within the genre, casual fans would be hard-pressed to name one that wasn't a singer.
This may change with Camila Meza. The Chilean-born, New York City-based artist certainly has a beautiful voice, as evidenced on her new album Traces, but it's her experimental and nuanced style of jazz guitar that make her a standout within the genre.
"I think in general, the first years it was like I was destructing the myths," says Meza, when asked about her early years in the music scene. "They see a woman that sings and plays guitar, and they immediately just box you into this very particular genre. I had to go through a lot of, 'Okay, but let me show you.'"
What she's shown them is a refreshing style of improvisational guitar playing that manages to combine both classical and contemporary methods. While jazz-heads have been won over by Meza's playing, Traces attempts to appeal to new fans with her bilingual vocals. The album includes covers of Brazilian pop star Djavan, Chilean artist Victor Jara and legendary American songwriter Stephen Sondheim, but it's her original material that she says makes Traces a musical leap forward.
"There's something that kind of opened up in myself," Meza says. "A lot of the songs actually talk about this idea of letting go, of reconnecting with yourself and just letting go of all the preconceptions that we're sort of pushed into. In that sense, it was pretty liberating to make this album."
Camila Meza will play an intimate concert with a three-piece band at the Athenaeum Art Center inside the Bread & Salt building (1955 Julian Ave.) on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 ($10 for students) and can be purchased at ljathenaeum.org.
IN THE MARKET
Looking for unique holiday presents can be exhausting, but at the right place, the process can be streamlined. At the Mingei Holiday Market (1439 El Prado) handmade meets local, with a variety of items ranging from jewelry to home furnishings. On Thursday, Dec. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m., the Collector's Gallery at the Mingei International Museum transforms into a crafty heaven with handmade goods, light appetizers, and cocktails. Featured merchants include Cambodian Silk Designs, Chelsea Ruwe Ceramics, Mr. Blueskye textiles and Wax Apothecary candles. Additionally, craft cocktail company Nostrum will be providing drinks with unusual flavor combinations such as grapefruit, piloncillo and chipotle shrub, and strawberry, hibiscus, and jalapeno. This event is free for all window shoppers, though bringing home an item will cost money. mingei.org
A NIGHT'S TALE
For 39 years, the annual December Nights has been one of the go-to holiday events that manages to be fun for both adults and kids. Taking place in the heart of Balboa Park on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 2 (from 3 to 11 p.m.) and going all day on Saturday, Dec. 3 (noon to 11 p.m.), the celebration features some new attractions this year. Thereís the Artisan Marketplace, a whimsically decorated photobooth, and performances ranging from the Santa Lucia procession to excerpts from The Nutcracker. Readers can also expect the usual festivities to take place: teriyaki bowls and miso soup at the Japanese Friendship Garden, a miniature train running throughout the park, and special hours and pricings at participating museums. And of course, thereís the twinkling lights and holiday embellishments. The event is free and there's free shuttle service from several points in Downtown. visitdecembernights.org