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Gabriel Vicéns: Days

Edward Blanco By

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Young Puerto Rican-born guitarist Gabriel Vicens unveils his second album as leader with the audacious Days documenting a nine-piece program of infectious modern jazz with a touch of the Latin flavor to make it interesting and quite appealing. A graduate from the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico, the twenty-seven-year old musician is currently professor at the Universidad Interamericana in San Juan and is widely recognized as one of the Island's up and coming rising jazz stars. Featured here are nine creative originals of non-standard jazz, a bit introspective and provocative at times, but always assertive and challenging to the core.

Recording with a standard quintet of players from the Island, Vicens augments the personnel and increases the format to a septet on several tracks by featuring Russian-born trumpet master Alex Sipiagin and fellow Puerto Rican jazz icons, saxophonist David Sanchez and percussionist Paoli Mejias. The music begins with what the guitarist describes as ..."a tune slightly reminiscent of Wayne Shorter's "Yes or No"" on the feisty and melodic "El Teatro," highlighting Sipiagin's horn solos and the delicate keys of pianist Bienvenido Dinzey and splendid saxophone voices from Sanchez and alto saxophonist Jonathan Suazo—all in front of the leader's own sprite solo riffs.

The title tune "Days," follows on a layer of Latin percussions featuring Mejias on the congas and shaker as well as drummer Leonardo Osuna setting the stage for a burner that produces a gyrating modern Latin jazz spin helping to define the album. The "Morph" is quite a different experience, dark and haunting, this is a true modern jazz piece and at ten-minutes plus, is one of the more ambitious tracks. The other ambitious and even more expressive modern piece, is the almost thirteen-minute "Doing Circles," which takes the group into challenging edgy territory.

The gentle spot of the album belongs to the beautiful "Amintiri," featuring a warm and graceful duet between the guitarist and pianist Dinzey on a piece of music that, may not be very modern in nature and in fact is a departure from the theme of the disc but, certainly qualifies as a gorgeous piece of music and a highlight of the album. The Latin touch returns on the spicy "Breaking through Shadows," featuring more solos from the trumpet master, Vicens on the guitar and rumblings from the percussionist who, along with Sanchez's tenor voice, marks the piece.

The leader and crew close it out with a raucous but lively performance on the finale "Justice," an apropos title for a tune that accurately describes a musical statement that does indeed do "justice" to the material on this recording. Guitarist Gabriel Vicens and his crew of Puerto Rican all-stars, turn in one compelling performance on his impressive Days, perhaps charting a new chapter of modern jazz as he combines the modern approach with a pinch of the Latin style for some flavor, works quite well here.

Track Listing: El Teatro; Days; Morph; Prelude to Amintiri; Amintiri; Doing Circles; Comprehend; Breaking Through Shadows; Justice.

Personnel: Gabriel Vicens: guitar; Jonathan Suazo: alto saxophone; David Sanchez: tenor saxophone; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet and flugelhorn; Bienvenido Dinzey: piano; Dan Martinez: bass; Leonardo Osuna: drums; Paoli Mejias: congas and shaker.

Title: Days | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music

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