Luis Perdomo: Focus Point (2004)
Luis Perdomo's maiden voyage as a leader is as impressive a debut disc as any released by a young musician in recent memory. The pianist/composer presents ten original compositions (eight by himself) in a variety of settings (solo, duo, trio, quartet and quintet) that clearly demonstrate how woefully inadequate the term Latin jazz is in describing the work of such an immensely talented musician.
The opening "You Know, I Know" is a labyrinthine Afro-Cuban tour de force (propelled by Roberto Quintero's bata and Ralph Peterson's drums) through which the leader and alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon cleverly navigate, aided by Ugonna Okegwo's solid bass line. "Fragment," a solo dedication to Henry Cowell and Anton Webern, exhibits the pianist's classical leanings. The intricate "Book of Life," featuring Ravi Coltrane (who produced the album) and Zenon, is a Jarrett-influenced piece that inspires intense soloing from the saxophonists and Perdomo.
Perdomo's "Procession" is a beautiful impressionistic piece built around Carlo DeRosa's arco bass and Peterson's mallet drumming. Quintero's Afro-Venezuelan percussion augments the trio on "San Millan," a sunny expedition on which Perdomo's piano shines. The influence of Jarrett is again evident at the beginning of "The Stranger," a trio piece that eventually opens up into some of the disc's strongest straight-ahead piano. Miriam Sullivan's "Spirit Song" begins with Perdomo's sensitive solo introduction, before the pianist is joined by the bassist composer and Peterson with Coltrane on soprano for the rest of the piece, which harkens to the '70s Afro-centric compositions of McCoy Tyner.
"Dreams," by tenor saxophonist Max King, is a moving duet between the composer and Perdomo. Perdomo's "Breakdown" is a swinging quartet piece that features Zenon and Peterson, who solos uninhibitedly over the composer's vamp and Okegwo's bass ostinato. The date closes with "Impromptu," a forward-looking solo piano improvisation that shows that Luis Perdomo's focus is unquestionably directed towards the future.