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Maruja Muci & Pamela Rodriguez at Tutuma Social Club, November 09, 2010

Ernest Barteldes By

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Maruja Muci & Pamela Rodriguez
Tutuma Social Club
November 09, 2010
New York, NY

South American singer-songwriters Maruja Muci (Venezuela) and Pamela Rodriguez (Peru) joined forces at the midtown Manhattan Latin club for an evening that included selection of original songs and revamped renditions of American and Latin standards.

Backed by a highly skilled trio formed by Edward Perez (bass), Yuri Juarez (guitar) and Roberto "Chino" Bolanos (cajon), Rodriguez took the stage first with "Amorcito," a soft ballad by Peruvian composer Javier Lasso. She was completely involved with the music, moving her body with the band's groove, often improvising wordless vocals in between lyrics. She then stepped off as Muci (on her New York debut) performed a bluesy take on "Cry Me A River."

It was clear that both singers have very distinct styles—while Rodriguez has more of a folksy approach, allowing jazz influences in her singing without losing touch with her native roots. Muci, on the other hand is clearly more influenced by American music, delivering a nice blend between melodic jazz with pop tendencies.

The singers alternated on stage throughout the evening. Muci sang "Fly Me to the Moon" in a 'festejo' arrangement created by her backing trio. Juarez performed a dexterous solo, which was followed by a great individual moment from Perez. Rodriguez also contributed her sole take on the Great American Songbook with a highly percussive version of Billie Holiday's "Don't Explain."

Both vocalists showcased their own material. Among the highlights were Rodriguez' "El Silencio," a ballad that highlighted her passionate vocal and the title track from Muci's third release Tiempos Modernos (Self Produced, 2010). While on the studio version the tune flirted with electronic elements, in a live format it played out like a bossa-nova with a Latin groove.

In spite of the fact that there was no duet during the 90-minute set, the evening was highly enjoyable. The audience responded positively to the two singers' styles. Muci—who had never performed with those musicians—seemed increasingly comfortable with the environment. Rodriguez was clearly more at ease, and closed her part of the performance with an up-tempo Afro-Cuban tune that had the entire audience clapping along with the beat. Muci ended with her own "Dreaming in Caracas," an English-language bossa nova-influenced from her self-released 2005 debut of the same name.

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