9

SM Quinteto: Stories, Tales and Songs

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Bassist Sammy Morales may call Puerto Rico his home, but he embraces the entire Latin Diaspora in his music. Born in the Bronx but relocating to San Juan, Morales creates compelling modern jazz built on a pan-Latin platform, ably erasing the boundary lines between Puerto Rico, Argentina, Spain, Brazil and Cuba on this, his longtime-coming debut.

Morales maintains an active playing career in Puerto Rico, but his work in education has kept him out of the spotlight. He puts his big ears to good use when working with various ensembles at the University of Puerto Rico and the InterAmerican University in San Juan, which also serve him well on this endeavor. Morales effortlessly merges styles, moods and colors, steering his quintet through his self-penned tales while orating with his bass and mind.

The blend of electric guitar, piano, electric bass, accordion and drums is fairly uncommon, but it's actually the players' personalities, not the instruments, that really define the sound of this group. Guitarist Gabriel Vicéns is a modernist through and through, but duende dwells in his heart and hands. Drummer Mario Pereira effortlessly shifts between different feels, brings his gentle, yet propulsive cymbal touch to bear on numerous occasions, and provides a musical heartbeat when necessary ("Las Preguntas"). Pianist Liza Micelli proves to be the most extroverted personality of the bunch early on, but later investigates a more nuanced approach, delivering chops-heavy solos or gracefully tracing around the shapes in her path in understated fashion. Accordionist Ricky Martinez touches on Mediterranean moods and alludes to Argentina on occasion, but steers clear of Astor Piazzolla and Nuevo Tango; he's his own man with the squeeze box.

Morales is both a solid and dependable traveling companion for the others and a seductive solo voice. He gets a warm-toned, middle-of-the-road sound out of his instrument, avoiding slapping antics and high-end hijinx that make so many electric bassists seem out of place in these types of settings. He may play electric bass, but he doesn't make a circus out of it.

The music can carry itself with a Brazilian air ("Las Preguntas"), move with "Caravan"-meets-Cuba modernity ("Rumbita") or soak in its own mellowness ("Pequeno Pintor"), but it's never firmly ensconced in any single place. Each of these songs carries multiple passports and touches on different experiences. Morales makes music that speaks with authority, but thrives on ingenuity. That's what SM Quinteto is all about.

Track Listing: Vals para Gaby; Las Preguntas; Pequeño Pintor; Rumbita; Ni bomba, Ni fuga, Ni ná; El Reposo; Soledad Imperfecta; Canto al Sur; Desamor.

Personnel: Sammy Morales: bass; Gabriel Vicéns: guitar; Liza Micelli: piano, keyboards; Mario Pereira: drums; Ricky Martinez: accordion, flute.

Title: Stories, Tales and Songs | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell" CD/LP/Track Review Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin" CD/LP/Track Review Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets" CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Thick As Thieves" CD/LP/Track Review Thick As Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Transient" CD/LP/Track Review Transient
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Bekkenjordet" CD/LP/Track Review Bekkenjordet
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 15, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor