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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Drexler, sweetly personal

March 14, 2007|Elijah Wald | Special to The Times

Uruguayan composer Jorge Drexler remains best known in the U.S. for his brief appearance at the 2005 Academy Awards: His "Al Otro Lado del Rio" won the Oscar for best original song and, having been passed over (in favor of Antonio Banderas) to sing it during the ceremony, he responded with an a cappella verse while accepting his statuette.

Monday night at Disney Hall, Drexler revisited that evening, saying he had discovered that he liked the song that way, then performing it unamplified while sitting at the front of the stage, accompanied only by the audience gently chiming in on the chorus.

It was a magical moment. Although Drexler's albums are fine, his easy charm, imaginative musicianship and gift for theater are best experienced live.

Seated alone onstage, he used a beat box to supply rhythmic support and an electronic chorus to create tapestries of sound from his voice and acoustic guitar.

He drew particular applause with social commentary: "Disneylandia," from his new album, "12 Segundos de Oscuridad," ended a kaleidoscopic view of globalization with Iraqi children failing to get a visa to visit Disneyland.

Following a standing ovation, Drexler returned for a final crowd-pleasing medley, framing his own "Sea" with snatches of Maurice Williams' "Stay" and Stephen Bishop's "On and On." It was a sweet and funny finish to a brilliant evening.

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