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Finding a gem in the crowded jazz world is always a pleasure. When that jewel comes from the Southern hemisphere, due consideration must be made. Although the album's title is a Japanese Buddhist term Satori, the orator is Chilean and the language is modern jazz.
Guitarist Gabriel Reyes from Santiago follows his debut quartet recording Trébol (Vertice Records, 2008) with this sextet session, adding trumpeter Derek Bittner and saxophonist Claudio Rubio to his Trébol band of Sergio Valenzuela (piano), Alonso Durán (contrabass), and Nicolás Ríos (drums).
Reyes is a skilled guitarist and composer, but the highlight here is the arrangements. He weaves each composition with a deft attention to group interplay. Like his contemporary peers, American Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Israeli Gilad Hekselman he presides over both a group and his individual sound. He can cut open a tune like "El 5," which begins as an electric solo, then Valenzuela's piano shadows Reyes as the entire sextet joins. The groove is taken from rock, but the soul is jazz. Rubio's saxophone could be mistaken for Joshua Redman's and Reyes has assimilated jazz guitar from Wes Montgomery to John Scofield. He takes liberties with bits of electronics on "Enero" playing some out loud guitar to counter Bittner's trumpet and Rubio's saxophone. The shortish piece begs for an extended live version.
Elsewhere, the electric funkiness of "Porcina" is disguised as a fusion piece, but it is also a well-tailored jazz composition. "Musubi" opens with a dark, black keys tone, interlacing horns and pacing this bluesy ballad. The title track skirts the same line, with Reyes providing the fireworks. He turns the volume up, making the most of his controlled yet clamorous sound.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.