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ALBUM REVIEWS

Don Byron / Aruan Ortiz: Random Dances And (A)tonalities

Read "Random Dances And (A)tonalities" reviewed by John Sharpe

The title Random Dances And (A)tonalities hints at the inclusive nature of this studio encounter between Cuban-born, New York-based pianist Aruán Ortiz and American clarinetist Don Byron. Ortiz's admiration for Byron's work caused him to seek out the reedman and led to this session that brings together their varied backgrounds. Between the two, they encompass early jazz, the liberated mainstream, avant-garde and classical realms. The resultant program contains three originals from the pianist, two from Byron, one jointly credited tune ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Don Byron / Aruan Ortiz: Random Dances And (A)tonalities

Read "Random Dances And (A)tonalities" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

Aruan Ortiz is a Cuban-born pianist who has worked with a number of progressive jazz luminaries including William Parker, Oliver Lake and Nicole Mitchell. Here he performs a program with clarinetist Don Byron which touches on a wide spectrum of music from J. S. Bach's formal beauty to Duke Ellington's crafty blues. The two men show the ability to knit their styles together from the first track, Ortiz's own “Tete's Blues," with Byron's clarinet snaking its way through ...

RADIO

Aruán Ortiz live at BIMHUIS Amsterdam

Read "Aruán Ortiz live at BIMHUIS Amsterdam" reviewed by BIMHUIS

Aruán Ortiz is a rising piano star of such a sweeping contemporary technique, imagination and keyboard-power, to be an enthralling one-man band too. The Cuban-born musician incorporates different forms in his compositions, resulting in a unique new style which reflects his fascination for modern classical music as well as Afro-Cuban traditions, and for great jazz innovators such as Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk. On this solo set, based on his album Cub(an)ism released last year on the Swiss ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Don Byron/Aruan Ortiz: Random Dances And (A)Tonalities

Read "Random Dances And (A)Tonalities" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Jazz albums have a history of featuring cool cover art, from drummer Chico Hamilton's Ellington Suite (World Pacific, 1959) and bassist Charles Mingus' Ah Um (Columbia, 1959) to almost all of the ECM Records catalog. Maybe grabbing the music-shopper's eye helps in the pulling of the wallet out the pocket or the purse. On the terrific duo album, Random Dances And (A)tonalities, from reedman Don Byron and pianist Aruan Ortiz, that visual introduction is four squares set together to make ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Don Byron / Aruán Ortiz: Random Dances And (A)Tonalities

Read "Random Dances And (A)Tonalities" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Two highly accomplished artists--one long-established, the other solidifying his legacy--are brought together on Random Dances And (A)Tonalities. This duo outing features clarinetist and saxophonist Don Byron and pianist Aruán Ortiz. The two gifted composers have been playing together, at Ortiz's initial request, since 2014 but in larger ensembles. In late 2017 Byron and Ortiz met in a studio in Zürich, Switzerland to record this eclectic set which plays to both artists' broad musical sensibilities. One of the most ...

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Winged Serpents: Six Encomiums for Cecil Taylor

Read "Six Encomiums for Cecil Taylor" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

The link between the late Cecil Taylor and the members of the Winged Serpents collective is one driven by admiration and inspiration, from a distance, rather than through collaboration. Taylor, in fact, had only shared billing twice in his half-century of recording. The Mary Lou Williams duet Embraced (Pablo, 1977) and Max Roach's 1979 recording of Historic Concerts (Soul Note, 1984) constitute the entire library of his communal projects and date back at least a generation before any of the ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Aruán Ortiz Trio: Live in Zürich

Read "Live in Zürich" reviewed by John Sharpe

Cuban pianist Aruán Ortiz just goes from strength to strength on his third release on the Intakt imprint, although it is his twelfth overall. While most of the repertoire on Live In Zurich appears on previous albums, what he does with it here, through dramatically extending and mashing pieces together, is nothing short of remarkable. This date at the Unerhört! Festival in the Swiss capital was the last of a two-week European tour, and that really shows in the tightness ...

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Aruán Ortiz Trio with Brad Jones and Chad Taylor: Live in Zürich

Read "Live in Zürich" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Live in Zürich is the twelfth album from Cuban avant-garde composer and pianist Aruán Ortiz. Of those recordings widely available in the US, Ortiz has worked with a variety of group formats. His quartet released Orbiting (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2013), was followed by a trio outing on Hidden Voices (Intakt Records, 2016) and two successive solo recordings, Cub(an)ism (Intakt Records, 2017) and the vinyl-only Cuban Nocturne (Newvelle Records, 2017).Ortiz continues to grow a global fan base after ...

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Aruan Ortiz: Cuban Nocturne

Read "Cuban Nocturne" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Cuban pianist and composer Aruán Ortiz started playing piano at the age of nine though his primary instruments were violin and viola. As a teen he began playing arrangements of popular Cuban songs in a school where he was already the director of the band. At fifteen he was first exposed to the music of Chick Corea, setting him on a journey to explore jazz. Cuban Nocturne is fifth of six second-season releases from the vinyl-only Newvelle Records label. The ...

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Aruán Ortiz: Cub(an)ism

Read "Cub(an)ism" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

The profile of Cuban-born pianist Aruan Ortiz climbed a few rungs on the ladder with the release of 2016's Hidden Voices (Intakt Records). The sound there was dark and brooding, as Ortiz constructed geometric musical shapes filled with sharp angles and unexpected tangents. His covers on the recordings--one tune by Thelonious Monk and another by Ornette Coleman--served as clues as to his own iconoclastic approach. Hidden Voices featured the pianist in the trio format with bassist Eric Revis ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Aruán Ortiz: Cub(an)ism

Read "Cub(an)ism" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Hidden Voices (Intakt Records, 2016) brought Cuban born pianist and composer Aruán Ortiz some long-overdue recognition in the U.S. Cub(an)ism, Ortiz' tenth release, is a solo piano outing and his first such recording in the stand-alone format. Recorded in 2016 in Zürich, Switzerland, the album continues Ortiz' exploration of Cuban Cubism, his method of incorporating cubist principles of faceting and multiple perspectives with folkloric elements. Cub(an)ism consists of ten original Ortiz compositions that blend Afro Cuban and Afro ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Aruan Ortiz Trio with Eric Revis and Gerald Cleaver: Hidden Voices

Read "Hidden Voices" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Cuban born pianist and composer Aruán Ortiz is just now starting to broaden his long-overdue recognition after two decades as a leader or collaborator. More than ten years prior to his new trio release, Hidden Voices, he had drawn favorable comparisons to Chick Corea and Ornette Coleman with Aruán Ortiz Trio Vol. 1 (Pimienta Records, 2004). That outing featured an entirely different group but clearly set the groundwork for Ortiz' unique approach to creating and executing forward-looking music.