Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"MaxJazz, the independent jazz label formed in the late-1990s which originally specialized in vocal jazz, continues its well-received vocal jazz series with what can only be termed a pièce de résistance, the recording of Chilean-born singer Claudia Acuna . Miss Acu'a has two previously releases on Verve that have helped establish her a talent worthy of recognition. Her present recording, Luna, extends that worthiness.
Luna is an assembly of pieces in Spanish and English, with the better part of the songs sung in the former. Often this presents a problem for monolingual listeners. However, Ms. Acu'a's delivery is so engaging that it transcends mere language in the same way that most Opera does. Thus, "Esta Tarde Vi Llover" with its sand-shifting Latin rhythms and pianist Jason Linder's funky-Caribbean "Yesterday You and I" are equally challenging and enjoyable.
Acuna's voice is a beautifully uncomplicated alto with a pungent distilled purity. The deep richness of her voice is maximized on the ballads "Tu. Mi, Delirio" and "Carita De Luna." Her voice dissolves into and recrystalizes out of the melodies and accompaniment on "Historias, " "Chorardo," and "Yo No Llevo La Razon." On the former, Ms. Acuna's voice melds with Linder's electric piano and the very fine John Benitez 's funky electric bass. Benitez was the absolutely most perfect bassist to tap for this date.
"Yo No Llevo La Razon" features the soul of Latin music in percussionist Luisito Quintero. You might not be able to identify this music as Chilean, but you will not mistake it for Mexican, Tex-Mex, or Cuban. In the music of Claudia Acuna, melody and rhythm are on a more equal footing making the music less "hot" and more serene. This recording will certainly show up on many 2004 best-of lists." -AllAboutJazz
CMJ (3/29/04, p.18) - "[A]n elegant alto voice that is equally at home singing in Spanish or English."
Personnel: Claudia Acuna (vocals); Jimmy Greene (soprano saxophone); Jason Linder (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); John Benitez (acoustic & electric basses); Gene Jackson (drums); Luisito Quintero (percussion).
Recorded at Avatar Studios, New York, New York on November 6-8, 2003.
Personnel: Claudia Acuña (vocals, background vocals); Jimmy Greene (soprano saxophone); John Benítez (acoustic bass, electric bass); Gene Jackson (drums); Luisito Quintero (percussion); Joe Ferla, Bethany Yarrow (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Claudia Acuña.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY (11/06/2003-11/08/2003).
Photographer: Jimmy Katz.
Arrangers: Claudia Acuña; John Benítez; Luisito Quintero.
Dropping the traditional jazz standards she dealt with on her two Verve efforts, Chilean vocalist Claudia Acuña reveals a more contemporary, R&B-infused Latin sound on her Maxjazz debut. Easily Acuña's most personal work to date, Luna once again displays her immense gift for delicately passionate vocals and interesting arrangements. Still utilizing the mellow, sensitive Fender Rhodes keyboard playing of longtime collaborator Jason Lindner, Acuña sings more Spanish on her third disc -- only Lindner's "Yesterday You and I" is sung in English -- and eschews any real straight-ahead jazz stylings for an almost fusion approach. That is not to say this is jazz-pop, but the delicate melodies do call to mind '70s Airto Moreira and the best Al Jarreau. While there are few if any outright jazz improvisations -- most of the tracks are under five minutes -- the music is still complex, literate, and sophisticated with deep harmonies that should appeal to hardcore jazz listeners and Latin music enthusiasts alike. ~ Matt Collar