Claudia Acu: Wind from the South (2000)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Opening with a playful stretch of "Pure Imagination," Chilean chanteuse Claudia Acuña leads a talented band based around bassist/co-producer Avishai Cohen, drummer Jeff Ballard and pianist Jason Lindner through a series of contrapuntal improvisations. Performing songs composed both by old guards like Ellington, Berlin, the Gershwins and Rodgers and Hart, as well as newer standard bearers like Newly and Wonder, Acuña displays a penchant for original shaping, which is at times overextended and at others constrained. Among the odder arrangements are a rather unremorseful telling of "My Man’s Gone Now" and a "Prelude To A Kiss" which rushes to the main event. On the other hand, "What’ll I Do?" is appropriately lost and lingering, and "Bewitched" is bewilderingly multi-colored. An air of appreciation carries through both sides of the musical borders with the pairing of "Gracias A La Vida" and "Long As You’re Living," but despite a language barrier, the Spanish number is more moving than the often trite English version. "The Thrill Is Gone" bridges English lyrics with Latin rhythms, but some of the other songs just don’t translate as well.
Track Listing: 1. Pure Imagination
2. Viento de Sur (Wind of the South)
3. My Man's Gone Now
4. Prelude to a Kiss
5. Gracias a la Vida (Thanks for Life)
6. What'll I Do?
7. Long as You're Living
8. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
9. Alfonsina y el Mar (Alfonsina and the Sea)
10. I'll Find You
11. Thrill Is Gone
Record Label: Verve Music Group