Puerto Rican pianist Edsel Gomez lived in Brazil for ten years, and that country's influence is evident in his playing. His Caribbean roots have not been lost, however, and a blend of those different tendencies is evident on Gomez's debut as a leader.
One of the first tracks that stands out on Cubist Music is "Lady Bug, a blend of Latin and bebop with horns (played by Don Byron, David Sanchez, Miguel Zenon, Steve Wilson and Greg Tardy) coming together for a fiery intro that moves quickly into a Cuban-esque groove. At Jazz Standard last month, the Latin influence of the piece was kept clear by the piano, but the rest of the live band (James Zollar, Wilson, Peter Brainin, Kenny Davis, Henry Cole) took the song elsewhere.
"Juan Tizol is a blues-inspired tune which is so subtle that any distraction might disrupt one's concentration. When played live, conversations taking place came to a halt, the audience quickly becoming entranced. On another bluesy tune, "The Minetta Triangle, Gomez clearly borrows from Vince Guaraldi, and both David Sanchez and Don Byron have fun performing a call-and-response improvisation around the theme.
"Coqui Serenade makes evident Gomez's debt to Antonio Carlos Jobimthere is a clear bossa nova element here, especially in Bruce Cox's drumming and the soft touch on the piano. The rest of the band also plays very softly, bringing to mind a remark by Frank Sinatra's trombonist during the making of the Jobim-Sinatra album in 1967: "If I blow any softer, it'll come out of the back of my head!
Although the album is comprised mostly of Gomez originals, he also plays compositions by other writers in live performance. At Jazz Standard, he took on Chico Buarque's "Samba de Orly with a markedly different approach from the original, yet preserved its samba feel (which meant that Cole had to keep the beat steady while the others played more freely). The sextet showed great skill and took advantage of magnificent opportunities to showcase individual talentBuarque would be proud.
NYC Taxi Ride; To The Lord; Wolfville; Ladybug; Juan Tizol; The Minetta Triangle; Coqui Serenade; Empty House; The Adoracion Variations; Harmolodic Collage; West 54th Street Theme; The 3-3 Clave; Molly.
Edsel Gomez: piano; Don Byron: clarinet (2,4,6,7,10,12); David Sanchez: tenor saxophone (4,6,11); Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone (2,5); Steve Wilson: alto saxophone (1,4,12), flute (7,10); Gregory Tardy: tenor saxophone (2,11), bass clarinet and flute (7,10); Drew Gress: bass (1-8,10-12); Bruce Cox: drums (1-8,10-12).