Arturo O'Farrill & Claudia Acuna: In These Shoes (2008)
O'Farrill, a 2006 Grammy nominee as a pianist, composer and arranger, has put his mark on Latin and jazz styles, often mixing both. Acuna, a singer from Chile, also fuses Latin and jazz and counts among her influences, Sarah Vaughan and Celia Cruz. Together, O'Farrill and Acuna combine the best of their respective worlds.
The sassy "Vida Sin Miel" fuses some Latin vibes with some funk. Ruben Rodrigues lays down the bass track, and guitarist Adam Rogers delivers a bluesy solo. Pedrito Martinez on percussion and background vocals offers an assist.
Acuna's ethereal voice gives the Spanish lyrics of "Paciencia" an elegant quality. This charming ballad features a subtle underscore by the supporting cast. O'Farrill's piano is little more than a bit player here, but the beauty is in the lead and the arrangement.
The piano does get more involved on "Cuando Cuando," a straightforward Latin arrangement. The percussion, bass, drums and piano are the stars, although Acuna's lead is also a key element. The ensemble takes on more of an Afro-Cuban sound with "Agua," which has heavy emphasis on bass and percussion. The voices add a certain charm to it.
The goal of the recording is to bring the world together, showing that various cultures can, and often do, mingle. The formula works, as O'Farrill and Acuna present different styles of music, and merge them, such as with the Latin take on Van Morrison's "Moondance." In These Shoes is a pleasant listen throughout.
Track Listing: In These Shoes; Vida Sin Miel; Paciencia; Cuando Cuando; Agua; Como Los Amantes; Moondance; Willow Weep for Me; California; Jibarito; Dime; La Piye.
Personnel: lead vocals; Arturo O'Farrill: piano, arrangements; Adam Rogers: guitar; Michael Mossman: trumpet; Reynaldo Jorge: trombone; Yosvany Terry: alto and tenor sax; Ruben Rodrigues: bass; Dafnis Prieto: drums; Pedrito Martinez: percussion, vocals.
Record Label: Zoho Music