Magos Herrera

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Distancia Review

by Michael G. Nastos

For her debut recording, vocalist Magos Herrera, who was born in Mexico City and honed her craft in Italy and New York City, is at times a dream weaver, sensual partner, and languid lover able to understand how to bridge the distance emotionally between the now and the never to be. Singing lyrics mostly in Portuguese and Spanish (with two in English), hers is primarily a wafting siren's song, alluring and tempting while also knowing deep in her soul that the gaps and long goodbyes between passionate times must be savored and treasured. She wrote most of the material with help from friend, co-producer, and arranger Tim Ries, who curiously does not play saxophone on the date. Guitarist Lionel Loueke and pianist Aaron Goldberg are her principal helpmates, lending their ultra-melodic gifts and flair for modernistic jazz devices to identify this as a contemporary rather than traditional project. Herrera's voice can be favorably compared to that of Claudia Acuña or Luciana Souza as she weaves magic spells of hope and gratitude, and what must eventually be love. Of the cover songs, the band does a lovely free-floating to lively tropicalia version of Milton Nascimento's "Vera Cruz," and strips an easy-flowing take of "Dinji" down to bare bones, with Loueke's presence in tow. "New Song" and "Staying Closer" are sung in English, the former a pretty, understated, and delicate song, the latter a plea to stay (in 7/8 time) with Loueke's chopped-up guitar agreeable to the idea. The romantic "Reencuentro" and "Tus Ojos" open the program with distinct contemporary musings from Goldberg, respectively laying the foundation in 7/8 or 3/4 time to guide the singer into a wordless flight of fancy or more alluring tones. "Alegría" is likely the most challenging piece, with a 6/8 beat that is very minimalist, energetic, and dramatically demanding. Appealing to misty dreamers, whether sitting by the fire in the cold north or denizens of warmer climes, Herrera is a singer speaking directly to the heart on her first CD, with great potential for more expansive music to come.

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