Publication: Jazz Beyond Jazz 
Author: Howard Mandel
Date: January 14, 2013
The second weekend of January is now the fullest on NYC’s jazz calendar, with continuation of the high energy, two-night showcase Winter Jazzfest in multiple Greenwich Village venues, and aspirational ensembles elsewhere playing (they hope) for booking agents and curators attending the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters convention. Having responsibilities of my own Friday and Saturday after the Jazz Connect conference (held in conjunction with APAP), I had to limit my actual listening — but took in the start of pianist Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express plus tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life, the Revive Big Band, singer Claudia Acuña and solo saxophonist Colin Stetson as well as vocalist Macy Gray with saxman David Murray’s Big Band at Iridium in midtown.
Ms. Acuña, who preceded Stetson at the Bitter End — best known as a folkie hangout — is a beguiling Chilean-born- and-raised vocalist and songwriter. She sings mostly in Spanish, which I don’t speak, but her voice is warm, her delivery is artful and confident, her stage manner casually dramatic and very inviting. Accompanied by a tight keyboard-electric bass-electric guitar-drums group, she was a pleasure to hear. At the apex of her show she segued into “You Are My Sunshine” (in English), expressing both that lyric’s simplicity and its nobility. I was glad of that.
To read Howard Mandel’s other impressions from Winter Jazzfest, please visit his blog .