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Musicians dream of the day they can record a CD, free from considerations beyond a pure presentation of their music. That day arrived for Louie Cruz Beltran with the completion of his first solo album. After over three decades playing and recording with such luminaries as virtuoso percussionist Francisco Aguabella, guitarist Mary Osborne, violinist Jean Luc Ponte, and Latin American greats Coke and Pete Escovedo, it's Louie's time!
Beltran has created an opportunity for the world to hear the music close to his heart. He works alongside a fine array of musicians: Including the ringing tones of trumpeter Ramon Flores ("Senorita Mia"), the creative skills of Peter Michael Escovedo and the finesse of guitarist Ramon Stagnaro ("Samba Lady").
It's My Time encompasses a selection of Beltran's compositions, drawn from his successful career. Based firmly on his extensive knowledge of African and Latin rhythms, Beltran begins his list with the contemporary "It's My Time" and ends with Cu Rumba; a love song celebrating family memories and Hispanic roots. The tracks in-between are a culmination of years spent exploring a multitude of styles such as the R & B of his youth and countless hours studying the appearances of admired musicians.
His fluid vocals and rapidly changing pace draw the listener: Expanding the fine tradition of singer-bandleader so prevalent in Latin American based jazz but sadly lacking elsewhere. Unusual in its strength and quality, Beltran's voice soars in "Special Love" and simmers in "Tell Me What You Have To Say". Rebecca Valadez provides a notable vocal counterpoint ("Tell Me What You Have To Say").
Carefully constructed lyrics draw both novice and experienced listener into the music and the mood. Love songs dominate and include tracks in both Spanish and English. Californian born and bred, Beltran seeks to bridge the gaps between America's generations of music lovers and creates an environment where cultural differences enhance rather than detract from an appreciation of the music. He achieves it admirably, with pieces such as the R & B highlighted "Have Some Fun" and "Tell Me What You Have To Say", as well as the driven "Samba Lady" and "Cha Cha Tango de Paris".
Arrangements are diverse, subtly enhancing the overall flow of the selection as well as the tension of individual compositions. Listen for the complexities of the percussion, especially on pieces such as "Senorita Mia" where Beltran lets fly along with Peter Michael Escovedo.
The emphasis on this first solo CD is on musical self-exploration: A beginning of the exposure of Beltran's private music, unique and apart from his work with others. Another solo CD is in the works, to be distributed by Morrowland Records (http://www.morrowlandrecords.com).
With such a wealth of experience to draw on and a passion for his music and Latin Jazz, there's a great deal of room for the future analysis of the excitement and energy of Louie Cruz Beltran!
CD orders and audio samples can be found at Beltran's web site: http://www.louiecruzbeltran.com/
Track Listing: It's My Time; Samba Lady; Cha Cha Tango de Paris; Tell Me What You Have To Say; Senorita Mia; Have Some Fun; Special Love; The Ring; Cu Rumba.
Personnel: Louie Cruz Beltran - lead vocals, congas, timbales, bongos, bata, percussion.
Peter Michael Escovedo - drums, congas, percussion, keyboard, background vocals
Rebecca Valadez - vocals
Renato Neto - keyboard
Jeff Babco - keyboard
Ronnie Foster - keyboard
Alex Al - bass guitar
Rhonda Smith - bass guitar
Ramon Stagnaro - acoustic guitar
Bruce Watson - acoustic guitar
Toshi Yanagi - electric guitar
Ramon Flores - trumpet
Dino Soldo - harmonica
Engineered and Mastered by Peter Michael Escovedo
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.