When offered the opportunity to review En Este Momento, Claudia Acuna’s latest album, I jumped at the chance. I am a huge fan of Latin Jazz in general, and Claudia Acuna in particular. Once the album arrived, I wasted no time in ripping open the cover and getting down to business. I was not disappointed. The music in En Este Momento is awesome. Some CDs grab you by the throat during the first song and by the end of the album, the hook is in you so deep you can’t escape. Others come on to you with slow intoxication, seeping through your consciousness like a mellow liquor.

For me, En Este Momento provided the latter kind of listening experience. The first time I listened to the album I knew I liked it but wasn’t quite sure why. On the second and third listenings, I became immersed in multiple layers of appreciation as I listened carefully to each song. On the fourth round, it all came together and I was hooked. That’s when I decided that this was my kind of music!

On the surface, Latin Jazz seems like a relatively uncomplicated music form; but the truth of the matter is, to play it well both vocal and instrumental performers must continuously strive to remain in that sweet spot between the two genres. With her rich and mellow alto voice Ms. Acuna seemed to accomplish this difficult task almost effortlessly, exploring songs ranging in emotion from romantic and sensuous to edgy and borderline avant-garde; all the time adhering to the essential elements of jazz.

Much credit is also due to the world class musicians who performed with her in the album, including: Jason Lindner (piano), Juancho Herrera (guitar/mandolin), Omer Avital (bass), and Clarence Penn (drums, cajon, percussion). Additional guests Edgardo “Yayo” Serko (cajon, bombo leguero, palmas) and Branford Marsalis (soprano saxophone) contribute extra spice to the mix. Ms. Acuna once said, “I love jazz’s tradition, but I always promised myself that my music would pay tribute to who I am, which is why all of my albums contain at least one song from South America.”

En Este Momento is no exception. For this recording, she chose chose several Spanish-language classics such as the hauntingly beautiful “La Mentira,” written by Alvaro Carrillo Alarcon, and three songs by Victor Jara, who has been called the Bob Dylan of Chile. She effortlessly glides through her own interpretation of the upbeat “Sueño Contigo” by Uruguayan singer and percussionist Ruben Rada, and shows her growing confidence as lyricist and co-composer of two songs “Tulum” and That’s What They Say.”

En Este Momento is Claudia Acuna’s best effort so far. It is scheduled for release by Marsalis Records on April 7 with concert dates in selected cities throughout the U.S. to follow. Don’t miss a chance to listen to this exciting new CD , and to see this immensely talented vocalist in a city near you.

Ron Standerfer is a freelance writer and photographer who is a frequent contributor Blogger News Network as well as numerous other online news sites. His latest novel, The Eagle’s Last Flight chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during the Cold War and Vietnam years. Details of his book can be found at http://www.ronstanderfer.com.

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