Ad Hoc Tributes to Departed Masters always raise questions of motive. Typically the rearview mirror is not where resourceful jazz artists look for inspiration. However, a quartet of current releases illustrate why and how retrospective projects can successfully navigate inherent pitfalls and attain authenticity.
Vocalist Claudia Acuña looks to the folkloric-oriented Nueva Canción tradition of her Chilean homeland and other Latin Amoerican societies on “En Este Momento” (Marsalis Music). Her performances are saturated with the spirit, if not the vocal style, of legendary cultural interpreters such as Mercedes Sosa and Violeta Parra. Here, she includes majestic treatments of traditional themes by Victor Jara, Astor Piazzolla and César Portillo de la Luz, among other hallowed composers of the region. Acuña’s version of Piazzolla’s haunting masterwork “Vuelvo al Sur” spotlights her uncanny ability to interpret the distinctive emotional character of a stylistically diverse program.