Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

744

Claudia Acuna Casts Her Flamenco Jazz Spell in Amsterdam

Guy Zinger By

Sign in to view read count
Claudia Acuna
Bimhuis
Amsterdam, Netherlands
April 3, 2010

Much like a modern-day matador, Claudia Acuna took the stage of the Bimhuis, dressed for the occasion. A performer filled with passionate dramatic tension on the one hand and tender jazz intimacy on the other—strength and grace, intertwined. Singer-songwriter Claudia Acuna, born in Santiago, Chile, Acuna began singing music native to her country. At the age of 15 she became acquainted with her musical models—Frank Sinatra, Erroll Garner and Sarah Vaughan—and since then she has been featured in many jazz venues and radio broadcasts, sitting in with musicians Wynton Marsalis and Joe Lovano among others. In 1995 Acuna relocated to New York City, where she became a regular at jazz locales.



Acuna opened with "El Cigarrito" (little cigarette, Victor Jara), outlining the framework for the rest of the evening—songs inflected with a jazz-ska rhythm line and her laid- back singing style, keeping it small and personal in the beginning, slowly developing the dynamics into a very fervent and warm climax. She switched to English for a few brief words: "Tell him that's it's human nature if they say why." Most of the songs were sung in Spanish, with a brief summary in English preceding the song.



Following was "Te Receurdo amanda" ("I remember you Amanda," Victor Jara), packed with flamenco-like interludes with the bass and drums balancing the act with jazz rhythm lines, on which Acuna exemplified her strong story-telling capabilities, with guitarist Juan "Juancho" Herrera taking the song into a tender and harmonically pleasing solo. The keywords remained "passion and tenderness," as she repeatedly changed the mood from intimate to passionate flamenco-style singing, ending with a small scat section, Spanish style.

With "Silencio" ("Silence"), an Acuna original, she continued demonstrating how she masters the stage. It's actually a little samba in a modern dress, with guitarist Herrera going into a solo reminiscent of "Fantasia para un Gentilhombre" (Joaquin Rodrigo), the fantasy of a young gentlemen indeed with a small scat section at the end.

Enter the most captivating piece of the evening—"Like Two Strangers"—performed as a duo, a dialog between the singer and the guitarist. It was a scene taken out of an Almodovar movie, storytelling at its best with jazzy tints added to achieve a perfect equilibrium.

A country feeling creeps into the Bimhuis with Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," with a unique rendition, extra slow, mysterious and thoughtful. "Twin-peaks" style blues was the name of the game with a solid bass solo, built from the ground up very carefully by bassist Carlos Henderson. The standard ended with an introspective trumpet like scat section.



After the intermission, Acuna continued with "Gracias a la vida" ("Thanks to life") followed by "That's what they say" (Acuna/Lindner) and "El Derecho de Vivir en Paz" ("Our right to live in peace," Jara) rendered as a slow funeral march beautifully accompanied by guitarist Herrera.

Following was the torch number associated with Lady Day, "Don't Explain," taken from the tribute to Billie Holiday project of Acuna, expressively slow and dream-like, with unusual phrasing culminating in the word "sweet."

Enter Astor Piazzolla's "Vuelvo al sur" ("I am from the south"), performed as a duo with the guitar, one of the most accomplished songs of the evening, with an enticing bugle-like scat section in the middle.



The evening ended with two standards—Cole Porter's "Everytime We Say Goodbye" and Jimmy Van Heusen's "But Beautiful"—delivered very slowly, including flamenco handclapping, with minor dark chords in abundance.

The original group included pianist Jason Lindner, which would have lent a more acoustic sphere to the evening though Acuna, a fully-rounded storyteller, compensated with her warm voice and scatting abilities.

Personnel: Claudia Acuna: vocals; Juan "Juancho" Herrera: guitars; Edgardo "Yayo" Serka: drums; Carlos Henderson: bass.

Photo credit

Andre Hillebrand

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms Live Reviews Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms
by Martin Longley
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano Live Reviews Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano
by Keith Henry Brown
Published: January 13, 2018
Read Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café Live Reviews Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 2, 2018
Read Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook Live Reviews Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Karuna at LaFontsee Gallery" Live Reviews Karuna at LaFontsee Gallery
by John Ephland
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Ostrava Days 2017" Live Reviews Ostrava Days 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Little Feat at the Paramount" Live Reviews Little Feat at the Paramount
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Band at the New York City Baha’i Center" Live Reviews Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Band at the New York City...
by Tyran Grillo
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "Earl Thomas At Biscuits & Blues" Live Reviews Earl Thomas At Biscuits & Blues
by Walter Atkins
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Tony Bennett at Birmingham Symphony Hall" Live Reviews Tony Bennett at Birmingham Symphony Hall
by David Burke
Published: July 5, 2017