From her start as a rock musician in Chile to her current career as a jazz musician in New York, guitarist and vocalist Camila Meza has worked hard to create an eclectic and individual sound.
Since moving to New York, Meza has played in most of the city’s major clubs, including the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard, the Kitano, and soon, the Blue Note. She’s also performed at festivals in the US, Mexico, Switzerland, Poland and Chile. Meza has released a full-length album, Retrato, and a six-song EP, Prisma. The latter features several New York heavyweights, including saxophonist John Ellis, pianist Aaron Goldberg and drummer Clarence Penn.
Meza’s career was built on hard work and a series of fortunate events, starting at home where her older siblings introduced her to the music of Pat Metheny and John Scofield. Meza started as a guitarist in funk and pop bands, but her ear was always attuned to jazz. She attended Santiago’s Projazz School of Music to study guitar, and it was there a teacher discovered her other talent: singing. He booked her for a year of regular gigs, which is where she built her vocal repertoire.
Another life-changing moment happened at Projazz when a friend gave her The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. It was then that Meza heard the sound she wanted to emulate. She devoured 50s and 60s instrumental jazz and switched to a hollow-body guitar.
After leaving Projazz, she spent time studying with a private teacher and playing professionally. Then she used her savings to take a one-month trip to New York. Meza spent all her hours in jazz clubs, listening to everyone she could. By the time she returned to Chile, she knew that New York was where she needed to be. She won a scholarship to the New School, and that brought her back to the jazz capital of the world.
Since then, Meza has continued to distinguish herself with both her singing and playing. She’s performed with a host of New York’s finest, including Greg Hutchinson, Shai Maestro, Sachal Vasandani, Nir Felder, Gerald Clayton, Fabian Almazan, and Francisco Mela. And she’s performed at festivals all over the world, including the Saratoga Jazz Festival, the Lake George Jazz Festival, Festival JAZZUV in Mexico, Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the Swidnica Jazz Festival in Poland.
Camila Meza doesn’t consider herself a guitarist who sings or a vocalist who plays guitar. To her, both instruments are equal. It’s something she proves again and again on her recordings and in her live performances.