Claudia Acuña: El Cigarrito

In a better world, where radio stations hadn't been dumbed down to nincompoop levels, this song would be getting significant airplay. Acuña takes an old Victor Jara song, which that master of the Nueva Canción Chilena had performed as plaintive folk music, and gives it a kick in the pantaloons. The band coalesces around Acuña's spirited vocal, and the sudden drop in volume from the hot guitar solo to the jaunty bass dialogue with staccato piano chords is one more strong hook in a performance that has as many as a fly fisherman on a two week holiday. When the vocalist returns, she will leave you breathless by moving from understated cooing to a big grooving finale in about fifteen seconds. Everything here is smartly conceived and wonderfully executed. If for some reason you think that you can't be a big league jazz vocalist and sing in Spanish, you need to check out this track and, in fact, the whole En Este Momento CD.

April 22, 2009 · 1 comment


Arturo O'Farrill & Claudia Acuna: Moondance

This version of "Moondance" retains the spirit of the original song while employing decidedly un-Morrison arrangements. Beginning with a sprightly acoustic guitar waltz said to be inspired by the Venezuelan genre of Joropo, the listener can't be faulted for thinking that maybe the song has been mislabeled. This is "Moondance"? Well, Claudia Acuna's crystalline voice comes in, fitting the expected melody perfectly in its place. Arturo O'Farrill lifts the end of the chorus with some ascending piano figures that introduce the middle section, which seems to be Coltrane-inspired (the liner notes confirm this). Acuna's voice is then accented by its lone pairing with some simple percussion before the group heads again back into the chorus and conclusion. An exhilarating twist on the Morrison classic.

September 28, 2008 · 0 comments


Arturo O'Farrill & Claudia Acuna: In These Shoes

Latin jazz stars and friends in long standing Claudia Acuna and Arturo O'Farrill say they recorded this album just to have fun and nothing else. They say they weren't interested in pleasing "serious jazz cognoscenti" or wanting to "ingratiate themselves with jazz purists." Well, they have come to the right jazz critic in this case because I am neither of those things. I dug "In These Shoes." The song is fun even if I didn't understand vocalist Pedrito Martinez's Spanish lyrics. I still knew what he meant. The tune is basically a friendly suggestive tease between a man and a woman who is wearing some sexy shoes (a shoe/foot fetishist's dream). Acuna, who sings in English on the cut, has a wonderful jazz-inflected voice. Though it is true that most of the album probably would not pass the "jazz smell test," this tune has plenty of Latin jazz elements to qualify.

September 18, 2008 · 0 comments


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