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Gustavo Cortiñas: Snapshot

Dan Bilawsky By

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Gustavo Cortiñas has long been a musical seeker and sponge. The Mexico City-born drummer relocated to New Orleans in 2007 to pursue a BM in Jazz Studies at Loyola University New Orleans, learn from the best around—like legendary NOLA drum guru Johnny Vidacovich—and soak in the sounds of that storied city. When he completed that degree in 2011, he packed his bags and moved north to the Windy City. While in Chicago, earning his Masters at Northwestern University, Cortiñas came under the tutelage of drummer Willie Jones III and saxophonist/clarinetist Victor Goines, who both furthered and broadened his knowledge base in all-things-jazz. Now, with Snapshot, Cortiñas is using all of his hard-earned knowledge to make his own artistic statement(s).

This nine song program sheds a light on the many and varied talents of Gustavo Cortiñas. It's not a drummer's record in the traditional sense; it doesn't focus on insanely complex grooves and, with the exception of "Wish... (Interlude)," doesn't feature any lengthy drum solos. It does, however, give pause to admire the musical skills, taste, touch and compositional acumen of a fine musician. Cortiñas creates music that's driving ("Timing Is Everything"), episodic ("Skepticism") and straightforward ("Hanaki"). He can swing with the best of them, but he's not bound to the swing pulse. He's just as comfortable twisting and turning in other directions as he is delivering the old spang, spang-a-lang on his ride cymbal.

The majority of Snapshot is quintet centered, with drums, bass, guitar and trumpet appearing throughout, and one of two tenors alternately joining in on seven of the nine tracks. Goines joins in on three numbers, making a go of things in choppy fashion on "Timing Is Everything," taking a more nuanced approach on "La Balada Del León," and bringing up the rear on "Wish I Could Be There Now," where he follows guitarist Michael Allemana and trumpeter Justin Copeland in the solo running order. Tenor saxophonist Roy McGrath is featured on a diverse array of music, from the mellow ("When I Leave You") to the stitched together ("Skepticism") to the comfortably swinging ("Hanaki"). The only tracks without a tenor in sight are the drums-only "Wish... (Interlude)" and the album-ending "When I Leave You (Another Perspective)," which finds Copeland in the driver's seat.

Snapshot, like an actual picture, captures a specific moment in time, when Gustavo Cortiñas began to spread his musical wings and fly. Hopefully he'll remain in flight for many more musical adventures in the future.

Track Listing: Timing Is Everything; When I Leave You; Chimeras; Skepticism; La Balada de León; Hanaki; Wish… (Interlude); Wish I Could Be There Now; When I Leave You (Another Perspective).

Personnel: Justin Copeland: trumpet; Victor Goines: tenor saxophone (1, 5, 8); Roy McGrath: tenor saxophone (2, 3, 4, 6); Michael Allemana: guitar; Kitt Lyles: double bass; Gustavo Cortiñas: drums, cymbals.

Title: Snapshot | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


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