Camila Meza has been playing within her hometown jazz scene in Santiago, Chile, since the early 2000s.
But nothing has inspired her more than her current project, the octet Camila Meza and the Nectar Orchestra, who recently released the album, “Ambar.” She’ll present “Ambar” for the first time in the Valley on September 28 when she comes to the Tempe Center for the Arts as part of Lakeshore Music.
“It was definitely extremely ambitious in the sense that it involved a lot of people and the music itself is music that needs a lot of detailed work,” she says.
It’s so ambitious that “Ambar” took six years to record. Meza took a few breaks, though, to finish 2016’s “Traces.”
“After that, we ended up focusing fully on finishing this,” she says. “Playing with an orchestration like this, I was like a kid in this playground full of incredible toys. It does need a lot of really focused and detailed work to make the strings be a support, but also find a way to make them shine through the music and bring the lyricism of each tune.”
An admirer of George Benson and Pat Metheny, Meza has long been obsessed with music.
“I definitely cannot remember the first time I made a note with my voice or I was inclined to music,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember.
“I do remember the moment that I knew in my adult life this was going to be it. I was the realization of knowing that music would make me wake up every morning feeling motivated to do things. The feeling was so strong. It’s such an incredible companion for life.”
She released her first album, “Skylark,” in 2007, melding American and South American sounds. Two years later, she moved to New York to study guitar at The New School with Peter Bernstein, Vic Juris and Steve Cardenas. She sings in Spanish and English and won two Independent Music Awards as the Best Adult Contemporary Album and Best Latin Song, “Para Volar.”
“Ambar” is a lush collection of songs that meld Meza’s innate musical abilities. She acknowledges that some of it is difficult to recreate on stage, but she was willing to experiment.
“There has been this balance between creating a project I can take on the road and present in a touring scenario,” she says.
“When I’m in the studio, I do give myself a lot of freedom to experiment with the possibilities of the studio. I do give myself permission to experiment with technology whether I’m able to recreate it on stage or not.”
Even though “Ambar” was just released this summer, Meza is already considering her next musical move.
“This year is all about promoting this album,” she says. “It’s so fresh. I’m already, in my mind, thinking of what’s next. I’m cooking the next thing.”
Camila Meza & the Nectar Orchestra
Tempe Center for the Arts Lakeside, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, tempecenterforthearts.com, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 28, $35 and $40.