Down Beat - 7/02, p.643 stars out of 5
- "...A delightful surprise....her voice sounds nicely settled, and she sings with authority, clarity and purpose..."
Personnel includes: Claudia Acuna (vocals); Sherman Irby (saxophone); Avi Leibovich (trombone, flute); Krista Bennion Feeney, Anca Nicolau (violin); Joanna Hood (viola); Myron Lutzke (cello); Sara Cutler (harp); Billy Childs, Jason Lindner (piano); Romero Lubambo (guitar); Dave Holland (bass); Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums); Luisito Quintero (percussion).
Recorded at Avatar Studios, New York, New York in October 2001.
Personnel: Claudia Acu¤a (vocals); Romero Lubambo (guitar); Sara Cutler (harp); Anca Nicolau, Krista Bennion Feeney (violin); Myron Lutzke (cello); Loma Mar Quartet (strings); Avi Lebovich (flute, trombone); Sherman Irby (saxophone); Jason Lindner, Billy Childs (piano, background vocals); Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums, background vocals); Luisito Quintero (percussion); Kim Smith, Rick Gordon (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Joe Ferla.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY (2001).
Arrangers: Claudia Acu¤a; Jason Lindner; Billy Childs.
Within three years of her initial recording debut as a leader on Wind From the South, vocalist, composer, and arranger Claudia Acu¤a now commands sufficient respect to produce her second release for a major label, and it's a provocative study, secure in its delicate but powerful Latin jazz relationship. On Rhythm of Life, Acu¤a virtually has the style mastered and offers a solid, comprehensive, up-to-date exploration of ballads, up-tempo burners, Latin folk, and jazz compositions in English and Spanish. Co-produced by Billy Childs, who also plays piano on four tracks, as well as her longtime friend and pianist Jason Lindner, Claudia Acu¤a re-styles such great songs as "My Romance," "A Child Is Born," "I Fall in Love Too Easily," and "More Than You Know." Designed to reflect her creativity and original interpretations of standards from the Great American Songbook, she brings each song full circle beautifully, seductively, and in a well-balanced style. "Volver a los Diecisiete," a Chilean song written by Violetta Parra, and Milton Nascimento's "Maria Maria" offer traditional spice to this great set that also features Avi Leibovich playing an awesome flute and trombone. He offers an excellent caliber of jazz improvisations throughout, but is especially emphatic on "Nature Boy." Acu¤a's nearly six-minute rendition is performed to perfection, opening slowly with her rich trademarked elongations, phrasings, and nuance that rise and fall against Lindner's priceless chords that ebb and flow in a beautiful succession of lush crescendos. Jason Lindner's poetic complements are without equal. The song culminates in a fiery calypso, with vocals supplied by the ensemble. Excellent rhythmic changes in this arrangement make this song a pick. With the addition of Billy Childs, a string quartet, and master bassist Dave Holland, Acu¤a has elevated her sound into another direction,but the keynote of success is still her delicate, sensitive, beautiful vocal artistry. ~ Paula Edelstein