Gabriel Vicens: Point in Time (2012)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
When Berklee beckons, most aspiring jazz musicians pick themselves up and trek to Boston to further their studies, but guitarist Gabriel Vicens isn't most people. While the young guitarist had a scholarship lined up at that venerable learning institution, he opted to stay in his native habitat and study at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico. Over the course of his years there, Vicens developed a distinct tone that cuts, yet remains warm, round and focused. He also created a compositional identity all his own.
Point In Time marks his debut date as a leader, but the music isn't first timer quality. Vicens shows patience that highlights his maturity, taking time to flesh out his ideas. Vicens and alto saxophonist Jonathan Suazo often work in tandem, weaving their way through the heads of these modern jazz tunes as one. While they prove to be simpatico, they exhibit far different traits when they solo. Suazo proves far more likely to reach heights of ecstasy and flights of fury ("Point In Time"), while Vicens holds interest with his ideas and lines themselves, making the manner of delivery less important than the material being delivered.
Pianist Eduardo Zayas, who delivers ostinato based circuity, gentle comping, confident soloing and whatever else Vicens' mind desires, and drummer Vladimir Coronel, who drives the music with a light and propulsive ride cymbal, are ever-present. Bass duties on the album are split between up-and-comer Matt Clohesy and the great Eddie Gomez. Both men are key players in the overall architecture of these performances, but they each bring something different to the party. Clohesy provides a centered sound and fits in with the rhythm section, while Gomez brings a fluid and springy presence to bear. Gomez is also given a good deal of space to shine as a soloist, and he proves to be the more interactive and conversant ("Beautiful Place") of the two. The other big name guesttenor saxophonist David Sanchezonly appears on rare occasion, but he brings unbridled enthusiasm into Vicens' world.
Four of the twelve tracks on Point In Time serve as introductions to their far lengthier companions, but they don't always give a clear picture of what's to come. Vicens' semi-atmospheric "Intro to Frame of Mind" is far mellower than what follows, while "Intro to Cuadro" and "Intro to El Camino" are brief vignettes that feature Sanchez and Gomez, respectively, but have little to no connection to their counterpart songs. Regardless, all four episodic endeavors prove to be welcome inclusions.
At nearly eighty minutes long, Point In Time is a full-bodied debut record filled with bright moments, enchanting sounds and thrilling journeys. The Zeitgeist of modern jazz is exhibited through Vicens' work.
Track Listing: El Comienzo; Point In Time; Intro to La Diferencia; La Diferencia; Intro to Cuadro; Cuadro; Beautiful Place; Intro to Frame of Mind; Frame of Mind; Intro to El Camino; El Camino; The World In My View.
Personnel: Gabriel Vicens: guitar; Jonathan Suazo: alto sax; Eduardo Zayas: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass; Eddie Gomez: bass (6, 7, 9-11); Vladimir Coronel: drums; David Sánchez: tenor saxophone (5, 6, 12).
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz