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En Este Momento

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Album Review

Claudia Acuña's first effort for Marsalis Music and fourth CD overall — the previous on Max Jazz and two for the Verve label — is a subdued recording, much more introspective and thoughtful. Due to the presence of acoustic guitarist Juancho Herrera, the mood is more serene and wistful, with words sung in Spanish save a single track done in English. Electric and acoustic pianist Jason Lindner is also much more reserved, in the backdrop and less forceful than he usually is, but no less distinctive. Where bassist Omer Avital and drummer Clarence Penn have worked with Acuña and Lindner for several years, it is very clear from the outset they all know exactly what to do in their subliminal roles. It seems these sensitive and reflective songs have been on Acuña's mind for some time. The Chilean born vocalist taps classic sources and material she knew during childhood, including music from Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, and Cuba. More specifically, there are lyrics from her fellow Chilean, the freedom fighter and poet Victor Jara, and tunes of her own. Classic works by Jara, "El Cigarrito" and "Te Recuerdo Amanda," kick off the set, the former with clockwork rhythms via Penn swinging and swaying about before an atypical steely electric guitar solo from Herrera, the latter a yearning modal song in 5/4 time. Slow and somber respectively, "That's What They Say" — sung in English — is a tune of confusion and not belonging, while Jara's "El Derecho de Vivir en Paz" has Acuña and Herrera conferring in a retreat of reorganization, while the drifting "Contigo en la Distancia" retrospectively observes life from faraway locales. Branford Marsalis joins the group, playing soprano sax on his sole cameo, "Cuando Vuelvo a Tu Lado," while the ensemble goes deep into the dark blue spectrum for Astor Piazzolla's sad tango "Vuelvo a Sur." It takes the band nine tracks to step up their energy as on the bouncy, much more spirited "Sueño Contigo." Lindner is always more than able to play individualistically, no matter the tempo, mood, or underpinning required, and should be listened to with rapt attention. Because of the personal nature of this music, Acuña herself is not as pronounced or bold as on previous dates, but delivers the goods in a deliberate yet subtle manner. This is mood and moody music, suited to be played under cover of darkness, not romantic, not sanguine, definitely heartfelt, and rewarding in many ways that are far less obvious on the surface. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 1971 in Concepción, Chile

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Though she always wanted to be a singer, Chilean jazz vocalist Claudia Acuña didn't discover jazz music until she was 15. Instead the Santiago native grew up singing traditional folk songs and current pop hits, but once some of the city's jazz fans heard her perform, they told her she had a natural gift for the style. Acuña frequented Santiago's major jazz club as a performer as well as an audience member, sitting in on sets with local musicians and meeting luminaries like Wynton Marsalis, Michel...
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En Este Momento, Claudia Acuña
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