Greg Diamond: Conduit (2012)
New York guitarist Greg Diamond follows up his well-received debut, Dancando Com Ale (Self Produced, 2008), with the equally impressive Conduita session of contemporary modern jazz infused with Latin rhythms and elements of jazz-rock fusion, funk, bebop and a touch of the blues. The music is a hodgepodge of different influences, melding nicely into one superb package performed by a first-rate group of players. A fixture in the city's vibrant jazz scene, Diamond has particular affinity for the Latin side of jazz and continues this love affair here as evident on such pieces as "Inertia," "El Martillo" (the hammer) and the finale, "Chance."
As with his debut, Diamond uses a core sextet to interpret his music, bringing back bassist Edward Perez, as well as veteran tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake and alto saxophonist Brian Hogans, who share leads on separate tracks. Presenting another selection of originals as testament to his talents as a composer, Diamond's "Yvette" opens the disc in high-gear behind Blake's blazing tenor, drummer Henry Cole's firm stick work and the first of many tasteful riffs from the leader.
Diamond is in true form on the spacious "Inertia," the album's first definite Latin rhythm piece, moving to a bit slower tempo but certainly lively enough not to warrant its misleading title. The percussive and energizing "El Martillo" kicks in with the second of the Latin influenced pieces, where Diamond's appreciable electric guitar chops are the main course, though both pianist Mike Eckroth and Hogans contribute excellent solos of their own. Diamond's crisp string work is a wonder to hear on the Brazilian-tinged "El Pozo," an intricate light ballad and one of the highlights of the album.
Then there is the jazz-rockeven fusion-like"Turbulence," its propulsive sound waves guaranteed to command attention, with the rhythm section sounding most pronounced behind Perez, Cole, and Cuban percussionist Mauricio Herrera as they back up Diamond and Hogans. "La Poor Sweet" and the soft-textured "Song For Jerry (Mi Viejo) offer more bright moments, as the disc closes on the direction-changing "Chance," the session's final Latin-feel song, featuring Hogans with a stylish tenor solo and heavy percussion work from Cole and Herrera.
Diamond continues to explore and refine a distinctive modern sound, and Conduit serves as the perfect vehicle for interpreting his take on fusion, Latin and other modern sounds that comprise the jazz spectrum. One thing is certain: this a varied musical project energized by strong writing and superb musicianship, beginning with Diamond and extending to each member of his band.
Track Listing: Yvette; Inertia; El Marrillo; El Pozo; Turbulence; La Poor Sweet; Song For Jerry (Mi Viejo); Chance.
Personnel: Greg Diamond: guitars; Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 6, 7); Brian Hogans: alto saxophone (3, 5, 8); Mike Eckroth: piano; Edward Perez: bass; Henry Cole: drums; Mauricio Herrera: congas (1-3, 5, 8).