The first track of the new album by the power trío San Juan Collective is “Fuera de Control”, energy charged with special guest Paoli Mejías on congas and one of four originals by saxophonist Norberto “Tiko” Ortíz. Mejías adds the Latin touch, and Ortíz’s flawless improvisations prove why he is considered one of the best sax players in Puerto Rico. The funk of “En cualquier momento”, another original by Ortíz, features just the trío. Ortíz on sax, Raul Maldonado on drums and the good, clean technique of Gabriel Rodríguez on bass.
“Incertidumbre” a composition by drummer Raul Maldonado, lowers the tempo with beautiful melodies on soprano sax by Ortíz. Special guest Osvaldo López on electric guitar adds some bluesy solos to this Jazz/Rock Fusion piece that ends with a powerful exchange between Ortíz and López.
“Cante Hondo”, another original by Raul Maldonado and Eduardo Villanueva, with special guest Christian Nieves on cuatro and Ricky Torres on acoustic guitar is the most interesting piece on the album. Cante Hondo refers to a singing style from Spain, but on this one the beautiful voice of Melisa Meléndez blends in her phrasing the “cante hondo” of Spain and the folkloric “aguinaldo” of Puerto Rico in a lyric describing the roots and history of Jazz.
“Thursday Mood”, one of three originals by bassist Gabriel Rodríguez has a touch of flamenco on Ortíz phrasing, this time playing the soprano sax. Rodríguez, who usually plays electric bass, demonstrates his good technique on acoustic bass. Special guest Gadwin Vargas adds the percussion on this one.
Rodríguez also plays acoustic bass on his composition, “The Giant”. In a more traditional swinging groove of jazz, this piece shows the versatility of these master musicians with the infinite bag of improvisational ideas by Tiko Ortíz on sax, and intense solos by Rodríguez and Raúl Maldonado to close.
In “Combo Blues” the trio invited Jorge Malavé on alto sax. For this blues with a Latin flavor, the duo of saxes gives the piece a Bebop feel and ends with a masterful exchange between the two sax players and drummer Maldonado.
“Nostalgia” by Rodríguez certainly is a good title for this composition. Special guest Charlie Sepúlveda on trumpet reunites with the trío usually accompanying them in recordings and live presentations.
Guitarist Raúl Romero, another master of the Puerto Rico jazz scene, joins the trio and adds brilliant, elongated lines on electric guitar on “Por Poco”, a composition by Norberto Ortíz.
Master musicians deserve a good sound and the wonderful work by recording and mixing engineer Edgardo Sierra deserves a special mention.
Fuera de Control means Out of Control but do not let the album title fool you, these guys are in complete control of their music and this release solidifies San Juan Collective as one of the best jazz groups in Puerto Rico.
Tracks: Fuera de Control, En Cualquier Momento, Incertidumbre, Cante Hondo, Thursday Mood, The Giant, Combo Blues, Nostalgia, Por Poco.
Personnel: Raúl Maldonado – drums, percussion, Gabriel Rodríguez – electric bass, acoustic bass, Norberto “Tiko” Ortíz – tenor sax, soprano sax, Paoli Mejías – congas (1), Osvaldo López – electric guitar (3), Christian Nieves – Puerto Rican cuatro (4), Melissa Meléndez – vocals (4), Ricky Torres – acoustic guitar (4), Gadwin Vargas – percussion (5), Jorge Malavé – alto sax (7), Charlie Sepúlveda – trumpet (8), Raúl Romero – electric guitar (9).
Label: Independent Release
Release date: August 2012