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Claudia Acuña Gives a Chilean Classic a Jazz Infusion

I caught this performance at New York's "Dizzy's Coca Cola" a posh club connected with Lincoln Center that overlooks Columbus Circle.



Although Claudia Acuña is a full fledged jazz singer, her repertoire still reflects her Chilean origins, and she presented several jazz settings of songs from its folk heritage.

"El Cigaritto" is by the iconic songwriter Victor Hara, whose work is almost synonymous with the protest songs of the  Nuevo Cancion movement that arose in Chile in the 1970's. He was publicly tortured and executed by the Pinochet regime, and must remain one of Chile's great political martyrs. But we must not let his terrible end overshadow the fact that he was also a great songwriter. "El Cigaritto" does not make any overt political statement. It is instead a gentle song with a lovely melody and a poetic lyric sung from the vantage point of a field worker on a tobacco plantation.

Claudia and her band have created a setting that not only preserves the spirit of the song, but enhances the melody with nuanced chord progressions and a different meter. It's a sensitive, loving interpretation. She has stated that Jara's work is very close to her heart, and she recorded three of his songs on her first CD.

You can go here to compare this rendition with Jara's.

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Claudia Acuña Gives a Chilean Classic a Jazz Infusion