Photos by Kate Shapiro

Maya Azucena performed Friday both as a part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival and to mark the release of her new full-length, Cry Love. In the waning days of the month-long NYC jazz festival, Azucena led an intimate and engaging show that not only highlighted the singer’s incredible vocal range but also an impressive backup band including a horn section and two additional singers.

There is something about jazz music that penetrates into the deepest recesses of your heart, and Azucena is a testament to that. At one point during the show, Azucena complimented the audience saying, “It’s this much love that makes this type of music possible.” This might sound like a cliché, but she’s right; jazz creates a closeness between audience and performer that other genres fail to replicate. Azucena made the imposing Highline Ballroom feel like her own living room. The singer would croon intimate, slow ballads and powerful, pounding productions alike with nothing feeling out of place or stunted. The intimate ambiance Azucena created was never lost. At one point, she even sang a playful rendition of “Happy Birthday” to her sister, who sat in a corner booth with the rest of Azucena’s family.

Judging from the show, Azucena’s Cry Love is a versatile album full of both the upbeat and the melancholy. The Brooklyn songstress has a wonderful talent for opening herself up in such a way
that makes her listeners feel like they’ve known her forever.

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