Aruan Ortiz Quartet: Orbiting (2011)
With the release of Orbiting, Ortiz has completely eschewed his Afro-Cuban roots and recorded a set of straight-ahead music with a quartet consisting of guitarist David Gilmore, his Afro Horn comrade Rashaan Carter on bass, and veteran drummer Eric McPherson. Ortiz starts the set off with "Ginga Carioca," a piece whose ever-so subtle Afro-Brazilian accent places more emphasis on melody than rhythm. He then segues into the title tune, a take on Bill Evans' "Unless It's You." While Ortiz and Gilmore converse in a call-and response manner, Carter's lyrical subtlety perceptively anticipates Ortiz's every move. Another highlight of this date is a hyperactive riff on "KoKo" where Ortiz and company tear through this tune like it's their last living performance. Drummer McPherson takes a cue from the Max Roach playbook on the opening, as Gilmore displays the lightning virtuosity which distinguished his work with the M-BASE crew, with Ortiz matching Gilmore note for note on his frenetic accompaniment.
The group then takes a trip into harmolodic territory on "WRU," showcasing Gilmore's skills as one of the most visionary guitarists of his generation. The set closes with a melancholic return to Ortiz's home on a rendition of "Alone Together" by evoking a Havana rum-mill at 3 a.m. where the last customer is thinking of every reason not to go home to an empty flat.
On Orbiting, the erudite Ortiz has smashed every preconception of Latin pianists and his penchant for innovative expression succeeds in surpassing the output of his musical contemporaries.
Track Listing: Ginga Carioca; Orbiting; The Heir; KoKo; Numbers; WRU; Green City; Alone Together.
Personnel: Aruan Ortiz: piano; David Gilmore: guitar; Rashaan Carter: bass; Eric McPherson: drums.
Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent
Style: Modern Jazz