Coming out of the shadows and finally emerging as much more than a journeyman musician, FT. Worth, Texas native Mario Cruz, makes his Armored Records debut on the impressive and visionary A View from the Mind's Eye, his first totally conceived, creatively controlled and produced musical project reflecting both real and imagined personal stories transformed into beautiful and dynamic musical statements. After joining the Rock-Fusion band Blood Sweat and Tears many years ago, Cruz moved to New York City and remained there for some twenty-five years where he eventually shared the stage with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker, Natalie Cole and Randy Brecker among many others before relocating back to the Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) area where he now performs.
The multi-talented Cruz fronts a core quartet as well as an eight-piece string ensemble in delivering a ten-piece repertoire stunningly clever, imaginative and excitingly engaging on many fronts. His musical accompanimentall from the DFW areahave a strong connection to the University of North Texas where Cruz himself, was a part of the renowned "One O' Clock Lab band."
Beginning with the assertive "The Most Difficult Virtue," the saxophonist leads the music while young drummer Matt Young pounds out the funky beat until the music settles down for a nice foray on the keys by seasoned piano man Addison Frei. Cruz provides expressive solos on both the tenor and the soprano saxophones on "Dancin' the Funky Tango," and is also joined by fellow DFW native, the beautiful Ginny Mac on the accordion augmenting their group by one. There are five tracks featuring The Paul Unger Contemporary String Ensemble beginning with the brief and gorgeous "The Tangled Web" followed by the core quartet and the string ensemble on the album's title piece and one of the highlights of the disc.
At eight-minutes in duration, "The Lonely Giant" is perhaps the most ambitious piece of the set and brings bassist Jeff Plant to the fore with some tender lines but, it's the leader who is the most pronounced here as he tackles all of the woodwinds on this sprawling track. The already varied original material here is bolstered by the sounds of Cruz on the EWI on "Now, But Not for Long" and on "Speaking in Forked Tongues" while the sensuous "Desires of the Soul" reintroduces the string section and continues to showcase the leader's chops on the sax.
The album winds down on the hard-driving "The Blind Leading the Blind," and closes on the short warm-styled balladic "That Which Matters," featuring a tender Cruz saxophone voice supported once again and for the last time, by the atmospheric chamber-sounds of the Unger Strings making this finale, the obvious choice for the softest spot of the recording. While Mario Cruz may not be a household name in the jazz world, A View from the Mind's Eye may very well serve as the foundation and catalyst in announcing this artist's well-deserved place on the jazz landscape as one heck of a musician.
The Most Difficult Virtue; Dancin' the Funky Tango; The Tangled Web; A View from the Mind's Eye; The Lonely Giant; Now, But Not For Long; Desires of the Soul; Speaking in Forked Tongues; The Blind Leading the Blind; That Which Matters.
Mario Cruz: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, EWI; Addison Frei: piano; Jeff Plant: bass; Matt Young: drums; Ginny Mac: accordion (2); The Paul Unger String Ensemble: Paul Unger: bass (3-5, 7, 10); Steven Li: violin (3-5, 7, 10); Alessandra Jennings Flanagan: violins (3-5, 7, 10); Jennifer Y. Chang: violin (3-5, 7, 10); Qiong Hulsey: violin (3-5, 7, 10); Kristi Swanson: viola (3-5, 7, 10); Aleksandra Holowka: viola (3-5, 7, 10); Keira Fullerton: cello (3-5, 7, 10).
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.