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The mere mention of bop piano icon Bud Powell as an inspiration and major influence should be a justifiable motivation to pay attention to Gabriel Guerrero. The energetic pianist's Feyas displays a recognized reverence to Powell while also exhibiting self-assurance, technical expedience, and compositional proficiency.
Guerrero draws deep from the jazz piano idiom as well as his Latin and classical backgrounds. He comes out blazing right from the launching track with "Colombia Tierra Querida," followed by a delicious version of Powell's "Un Poco Loco" and then "Hope," which utilizes his country's polyrhythms of bullerengue and porro. Placing these three at the commencement of the lineup was a clever production strategy to allow maximum exhibition of Guerrero's strong points. He covers the Venezuelan folk song "Tonto Malembe" as a straight-ahead jazz number with faultless drumming by Karina Colis. Guitarist Jeff Miles is brought in for "Ritual," an extended montage that effectively reflects Guerrero's grasp of the freedom of fusion.
The two tracks Guerrero composed specifically for respected educator and sax man Jerry Bergonzi, "Snake Shot" and "Tango Reflexivo," show strong intellect and versatility in his writing and arranging. Bergonzi relishes the occasion to stretch out along with guest trumpeter Ken Cervenka. Guerrero dedicates the soothing ballad "Charlie" to his mentor at New England Conservatory, Charlie Banacos, whom he credits as a fundamental figure in his musical development.
Having been exposed to a vast array of music in his life from intense formal academia, recording, and touring with a diverse number of artists, Gabriel Guerrero is not resting on his accumulated laurels. He is well on his way to staking out a claim as one of the rising pianists in contemporary jazz.
Track Listing: Colombia Tierra Querida; Un Poco Loco; Hope; Charlie; Tonto Malembe; Ritual; Snake Shot;
Tango Reflexivo; Crepusculo.
Personnel: Gabriel Guerrero: piano; Eric Doob: drums (1-3); Jorge Roeder: bass (1-3); Samuel Torres:
percussion (1-3); Andrew Gander: drums (4); Paulo Levi: sax (4); Scott Dodd: bass (4);
Amaury Acosta: drums (6); Daniel Ori: bass (6); Jeff Miles: guitar (6); Karina Colis: drums
(5); Luis Guzman: bass (5); Jerry Bergonzi: tenor sax (7, 8); Bruce Gertz: bass (7, 8); Tim
Horner: drums (7, 8); Ken Cervenka: trumpet (7, 8).