Gabriel Vicéns recorded his first album Point in Time
in 2012, when the guitarist was only 23 and which featured jazz bass legend Eddie Gomez
, his second album was recorded in his home town of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He currently teaches guitar at a collegiate level in the Music Department of the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.
Thanks to its tight ensemble,"El Teatro" sounds like a big band arrangement with initial solos from Alex Sipiagin on flugelhorn, Bienvenido Dinzey on piano and Jonathan Suazo on alto. Only then does leader Vicéns solo, on lithe and fluid guitar. The brisk, bold opening statement of the title track gives way to an exploratory guitar solo, beginning diffidently but gradually building up a head of steam, all underpinned by an irresistible toe-tapping rhythm. Sipiagin then follows with an explosive trumpet solo and the saxophones follow suit, alternating in fours. It's wrapped-up by the ensemble theme augmented by Latin percussion.
"Morph" is more complex with a serpentine ensemble theme underpinned by an obligato bass figure. Following a muscular trumpet solo, Vicéns gives a characteristically thoughtful solo. Wistful piano and sax solos ensue, with an outro as captivating as anything imaginable. Vicéns plays an unaccompanied delicate solo on the pensive "Prelude To Amintiri," followed naturally by the pastoral "Amintiri," which features Bienvenido Dinzey on piano.
"Doing Circles" has a much feistier edge than preceding tracks and with a punchy distorted guitar effect combined with horn ensemble passages this shows a different side to the group, yet still manages to include sections punctuated by scintillating soloing and paradoxical serenity. There's an early John McLaughlin
feel (specifically Extrapolation
), to the opening of "Comprehend" which transmutes into tranquil solo sessions for horns, piano and finally guitar.
"Breaking Through Shadows" once more utilises the ensemble to play the melody with Sipiagin first to solo, here on flugelhorn, followed by Vicéns, whose deft playing at times is reminiscent of some of the early masters Joe Pass
and Jim Hall
, whilst combining his own cerebral and contemporary style. The final track, "Justice," replete with memorable ensemble riffs is one of the album's strongest tracks, and benefits from a particularly strong Coltrane-esque tenor solo by David Sanchez. There's no earth shattering iconoclasm here, but there's no filler either, which all goes to make for a very good, satisfyingly well- crafted album indeed.
El Teatro; Days; Morph; Prelude to Amintiri; Amintiri; Doing Circles; Comprehend; Breaking Through Shadows; Justice.
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.