Smooth jazz guitarist Mike Arroyo recorded these sessions several years ago in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Brooklyn, New York. His guitar takes us on a tour of traditional tunes, a few spiritual excursions, and plenty of Latin jazz textures to complement the scene.
Arroyo prefers a gentle touch and a fluid technique that allows him to enunciate melodies simply and plainly. Electric bass, drums, a distant piano and catch-all congas complement the sound. Solo work comes from piano, tenor saxophone, vibraphone, and Arroyo's guitar, which he uses to emphasize straightforward melodies.
Pianist Jason Lindner brings a heartfelt gospel solo to "Mira a Cielo, which Arroyo uses to explore the improvisatory qualities of jazz. He, Lindner, bassist John Benitez and drummer Gene Jackson light sparks in the night through their extensive soloing on this selection, which is one of the album's high points.
Arroyo's slow and meaningful portrayal of "What a Friend I Have in Jesus presents a mellow homage, while "Perfect Mood flows with down-home charm. Milly Laracuent's vocal interpretation of "Florecitas stands out for its genuine sensuality. While the guitarist's session pays homage to the Holy Spirit, its emotional impact cools somewhat through interpretation. Arroyo's smooth jazz allows for beautiful melodic translations, but leaves some of the true feeling on the outside.
Personnel: Mike Arroyo: guitar; John Benitez: bass; Alon Yavnai, Jason Lindner: piano; Manuel Valera: keyboard; Steve Hass, Gene Jackson: drums; Richie Flores: congas; Christos Rafalidez: vibraphone; Dominic Lali: tenor saxophone; Milly Laracuent: vocal.