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Claudia Acuna: Luna

Claudia Acuña

It seems Claudia Acuna took the long way to St. Louis. After nearly a decade in the U.S. and a pair of widely praised albums for Verve, the South American singer has landed at Missouri-based MaxJazz and delivered the intoxicatingly beautiful Luna. Ironically, her Midwestern sojourn for her third disc as leader seems to have brought her closer to her Chilean roots.

Her two Verve outings-Wind From the South and the more recent Rhythm of Life (executive produced by Tommy LiPuma)-were, understandably, shaped to make her as palatable as possible to North American audiences. Presented alongside Acuna’s soaring interpretations of such indigenous fare as “Gracias a la Vida,” “Viento del Sur” and “Volver a los Diecisiete” were her awkward hit-and-miss attempts to nail such standards as “Bewitched,” “Nature Boy” and “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” all handicapped by an extremely limited appreciation for their English lyrics. The elegant sparseness of the earlier album (just piano, bass and drums with occasional guest flourishes from the likes of David Sanchez and Avi Leibovich) suited Acuna’s velvety voice. The comparative grandiosity of Rhythm of Life, with Acuna backed by various combinations of stellar sidemen, including such A-listers as Dave Holland, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Romero Lubambo and Billy Childs, and dressed up with plenty of those stylish LiPuma touches, tended to overpower her delicate instrument.

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