Claudia Acuna Live in Albany, NY

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
Chile-born singer Claudia Acuna is acclaimed as one of the jazz singers on the rise. She carried a top-flight band into The Egg in Albany on November 22, but didn't carry any particular singing style that is really related to what people know as American jazz.
Not any more than Brazilian Flora Purim did when she became a sensation on the jazz scene some years ago (relatively short-lived, as it turned out). Purim had little in common with Ella, Billie, Sarah, Carmen or Abbey. Acuna also has no real American jazz inflection to her style.
That's not to say she isn't good. Her Albany show was engaging nonetheless, and as jazz has expanded to encompass influences from around the world, one needn't necessarily see a path back to Betty Carter or Billie in order to be "accepted" in the jazz community. Tony Bennett has more classic jazz sensibilities than Acuna, for example, but the Chilean has her own way with song, an attractive lower-range voice and a nice sense of melody.
From her opener, the standard "My Romance," she showed a voice that beckons to the listener It's sweet without being syrupy. She's limited in range, never going particularly high, but she manipulates her phrasies lyrically and melodically with good effect. Also, she refrains from the theatrics and vocal calisthenics that many young singers in other idioms beat audiences over the head with. (Maybe she doesn't have Whitney Houston pipes. That's good!)

On the opener, for example, the rendition of the Rogers and Hart classic was far from ordinary, carrying South American rhythms from her homeland, while she softly, yet strongly, intoned the lyric. Her melodic interplay with trombonist Steve Davis here and throughout the night was very attractive.

Davis, a player with sweet tone, was a great "singer" himself in his solos, sticking to lyricism, not chops display, that fit the music and mood precisely. The fine bassist John Benitez held the bottom together with interesting passages and drummer Gene Jackson was steady and adaptable on drums. Pianist Jason Linder also stood out, his technique considerable. His music behind Acuna was appropriate and challenging. He used percussive attack at times, as the music called for, and went on more adventurous trips as well.

Acuna did songs in Spanish, as well as English, and each statement was musical whether the lyrics were understood or not. "Ay Mariposa" was emotional, not maudlin, and "Nowhere to Go," was a lover's lament put across convincingly.

Acuna's voice would occasionally not hold key, but she got around it easily, and flowed into the next phrase effortlessly. She's a good singer and her development will be one to keep an eye on.

American jazz? Not really. Sophisticated music tinged with Latin rhythms and a nice, floating appeal is good enough and made for an enjoyable outing.


More Articles

Read Shirlee Temper At The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Shirlee Temper At The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 30, 2017
Read SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club Live Reviews SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House Live Reviews Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Anat Cohen at Davidson College Live Reviews Anat Cohen at Davidson College
by Perry Tannenbaum
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition 2016" Live Reviews Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition 2016
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom" Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "The Tierney Sutton Band at SFJAZZ Center" Live Reviews The Tierney Sutton Band at SFJAZZ Center
by Asher Wolf
Published: August 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus


Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!