Well on the way to discovering their individual voices four high-school students who call themselves the Guess Who Jazz Quartet decide to place on record nine songs that say who they are right now. You have to respect the courage it takes, the dedication, discipline and enthusiasm that it takes to make a disc. And you will be rewarded for here is music that is forthright, more than merely enthusiastic and not there because the group had nothing to say, but it’s good music that speaks to the character of each of the musicians. Remarkably, even with a revolving door for the musicians in the band, there is also a remarkable sense of cohesion, which is not simply had by playing in a garage.
This is not the music of lesser mortals. It is carefully crafted, picked, as it were, from an enormously grand orchard rather than a family backyard. The music has been wonderfully arranged and it shows off the broad palette of colours and tone textures that inform the saxophonist and flutist leader of the band, Edward Ortiz’s playing. His playing is dry, but not without warmth. You hear none of the vibrato with which many of his contemporaries would be tempted to play. Rather you hear a quiet perfectionist who polishes these songs into small, but brightly gleaming gems. Listen for this in Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” and in Kenny Garrett’s “Happy People”. The Guess Who Jazz Quartet is on song.
I have enjoyed every one of the songs on this disc. Puerto Rican aficionados would do well to take note of the Guess Who Jazz Quartet. Indeed young musicians everywhere would do well to take note. This is not a high-school dissertation. It is an ensemble playing as if they were old friends. Yet the playing here retains a sense of gracious etiquette associated with the noble music conservatoires that now dot the world. These young musicians may not be ready for the big bad world of New York, where every young musician dreams of getting to. But with continued dedication, enthusiasm and a never-say-die attitude they are sure to make it there.
I would be remiss if I did not also speak my mind on the performances of pianist Julio Boria, bassist Richard Peña and of course the spunky drummer, Laura Crespo. Each of these young musicians makes important contributions to the music here. Everything seems right in their sincere and poised accounts of the songs in the programme. They play with an intimacy that is characteristic of musicians who exchange ideas in secret. Their contributions are big-bones and generous and huge overall. I for one would be looking forward to the next record by the Guess Who Jazz Quartet and I suspect that I would not be disappointed. Nor would I be surprised by anything but their own sound of surprise.
Track List: Welcome; Soñando con Puerto Rico; Caravan; Sonar; Para ti; Querube; Isora Club; Amanecer Borincano; Happy People.
Personnel: Edward Ortiz: flute and tenor saxophone; Julio Boria: piano; Laura Crespo: drums and percussion; Richard Peña: bass; Raúl Maldonado: bongó (2 and 9), güiro (4); Ricardo Pons: soprano saxophone (3); Fabiola Mari Méndez: Puerto Rican cuatro (4 and 8); Eguie Castrillo: timbales and congas (5); Rocío del Mar Portes: soprano saxophone (7); Charlie Sepúlveda: trumpet (8); William Javier Machado: drums.
In Conversation with Trombonist, Composer, Arranger Papo Vázquez
Miguel de Armas: Miguel de Armas and The Ottawa Latin Jazz Orchestra
Django Festival Allstars with special guest Edmar Castañeda Featuring Dorado Schmitt and sons Samson & Amati
Christian McBride’s New Jawn at Koerner Hall: Concert Review
Papo Vázquez Holiday Jazz & Latin Jazz Parranda with The Mighty Pirates Troubadours
Donald Vega: As I Travel
“They Shot The Piano Player” Screening At The Village East in New York And The Royal in Los Angeles
Una Navidad Nuyorkina: Celebrating 40 Years of Los Pleneros de la 21
The Latin Side of Jazz Episode 35
Sebastian Schunke: Existential Intensities
NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas with Melvis Santa, Alfredo Rodríguez and Hilario Durán
Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Borrowed Roses
Juan García-Herreros – The Snow Owl: Normas
Raphael Cruz Reaffirms His Commitment To Latin Jazz!
Edy Martínez, the Music Architect Behind the Piano
Rubén Blades con Roberto Delgado & Orquesta · Son de Panamá
Celebrating Emiliano Salvador and his Musical Legacy
Cubano Be, Cubano Bop: A Memorable Night in Toronto with Poncho Sánchez
A Conversation with Percussionist, Bandleader Poncho Sanchez
The Odyssey of Anat Cohen
Paquito D’Rivera & Quinteto Cimarrón: Aires Tropicales
Have You Seen My Nana? The Enduring Genius of Moacir Santos
Enrique Rodríguez: Enriquito – Me Quito El Sombrero
Roberto López Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra: Azul
Most Read in 2023
Featured Albums9 months ago
Aymée Nuviola feat. Kemuel Roig: Havana Nocturne
News10 months ago
Wilson “Chembo” Corniel Releases New Album: “Artistas, Músicos y Poetas”
News10 months ago
Aymée Nuviola To Release New Latin Jazz Album: “Havana Nocturne”
Events8 months ago
Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez Centennial Celebration