How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
A prodigious musician who led his first salsa band at the age of nine, Edsel Gomez is continuing to impress as a dynamic pianist in various bands and through associations with artists like clarinetist Don Byron and saxophonist David Sanchez. His latest release and American debut, Cubist Music, aurally translates the ideas of cubist art by combining building blocks into melodic motifs. The resulting music is captivating, filled with shifting patterns and arrangements that are melodic, complex, and vibrant.
To pull these ideas together, Gomez enlisted the skills of some of today's most forward-thinking artists, including reed players Don Byron, David Sanchez, Steve Wilson, Miguel Zenon, and Greg Tardy; bassist Drew Gress; and drummer Bruce Cox. Their individual and collective efforts are exemplars of excellence and solidify Gomez's ideas into a highly conceptualized work of music that represents new paths in Latin jazz.
Gomez is clearly a gifted pianist with the ability to flow between modalities of avant gardism, bop, and classical with ease. Contrasts include the hard-swinging "To the Lord," where he plays with a percussive style; the frenzied performance of "Lady Bug ; and the romanticism of "Juan Tizol, where his touch is delicate. He swaggers with a bluesy purpose on "The Minetta Triangle and flows with grace on the "Empty House. All of the compositions feature detailed horn solos and rhythmic arrangements that hint of a Duke Ellington elegance.
Throw in a nice piano and bass duo, a couple of solo performances, and a personal favorite, "Coqui Serenade, with its lovely horn mix, and Gomez has put together an album with total flair. His inventive cubist music concept is one that will hopefully be revisited again soon.
Track Listing: NYC Taxi Ride; To The Lord; Wolfville; Ladybug; Juan Tizol; The Minetta Triangle; Coqui Serenade; Empty House; The Adoracion Variations; Harmolodic Collage; West 54th Street Theme; The 3-3 Clave; Molly.
Personnel: Edsel Gomez: piano; Don Byron: clarinet (2,4,6,7,10,12); David Sanchez: tenor saxophone (4,6,11); Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone (2,5); Steve Wilson: alto saxophone (1,4,12), flute (7,10); Gregory Tardy: tenor saxophone (2,11), bass clarinet and flute (7,10); Drew Gress: bass (1-8,10-12); Bruce Cox: drums (1-8,10-12).