In 2020, Cuban-born guitarist Jorge Garcia
splits his time between South Carolina (where he resides) and Florida (where he has an established performing career). He says that the inspiration for this album occurred while he was growing up in Cuba and listening to Classic Rock on Miami radio stations, drawn to the sound of the guitar. The idea of making jazz arrangements of Classic Rock songs came from his later teaching experience, a way of bridging rock tunes with the jazz idiom. Jimi Hendrix
's "Purple Haze" begins the set, transformed into a funky 7/4 feel. But both the classic riff and the melody are present, sounding natural (even without fuzztone on the guitar). The jazz transformation also includes unison bebop lines during the bridge, leading into Abel Pabon
's funky electric piano solo. The Beatles
' "Blackbird" was the first of these arrangements, and it is a perfect fit. As jazz instrumentalists playing pop tunes have often done, Garcia alters the melody and the harmonies just a bit to make it sing instrumentally.
Electric bassist Nicky Orta
mainly makes his presence felt through a solid groove. But his rendition of the bass line for Jethro Tull
's "Living In The Past" sets up the tune, and his lyrical half-time solo on Emerson, Lake & Palmer
's "From The Beginning" (coming off of the samba feel of the preceding piano and guitar solos) is an album highlight. Led Zeppelin
's "Black Dog" was one of the trickiest tunes to adapt to an Afro-Cuban rhythm, and benefits from the powerful playing of guest drummer Ignacio Berroa
(also featuring a brief drum solo). The Moody Blues
early hit "Nights In White Satin" finds Garcia on acoustic guitar for the ballad of the set. Adding string synthesizer to the arrangement gives it the epic feel of the original, building to a grand climax (and then a second time at the end). As it had in the original arrangement, Yes
' "Roundabout" features both acoustic and electric guitar. It really showcases the whole band: Rey Monroig
's most powerful drumming of the set, another showstopping bass solo, as well as a synthesizer solo (not to mention a reprise of the vocalise at the end of the original arrangement, with Garcia as one of the vocalists).
The set closes with the title tune, a Latin jazz Garcia original that gave the album its name. A breezy conclusion to a fascinating project, and a chance to hear the band in full swing mode as well.
Purple Haze; Blackbird; Living In The Past; From The Beginning; Black Dog; Nights In White Satin; Roundabout; Crossover.