Cuban musicians – especially those living outside the island nation – being exposed to an enormous palette of sound, have developed a worldview that has come to be a volcanic mix of Afro-Cuban and a myriad of vernaculars. The music on Goldstream by the Julian Gutierrez’s Project is the latest to pour its fecund music out of a momentous rhythmic vortex.
Julian Gutierrez Vinardell, composer, arranger, pianist, and leader of the project, is based in Montréal, Quebéc, Canada. He is also a music teacher in the city, which no doubt brings him in contact with a group of peers and younger musicians. This would certainly account for why his traditional Afro-Cuban vernacular is articulated in a remarkably refreshing manner. The root of virtually every piece has the infallible propulsive underpinning of Afro-Cuban rhythms. The ubiquitous rumble of the conga drums and the rattle and hum of the African American drum set, punctuated by the cowbell, leaves one in no doubt that the roots of this music is Afro-Cuban.
But those roots branch and flower into lilting pulses and living, breathing rubato – that ineffably deep source of jazz improvisation. Thus, Mr Gutierrez’s music dazzles in variety and originality of concept and execution. Melodies come at the listener in wave after wave of harmonic variations tossed above the incessant Afro-Cuban rhythms that rumble below. When written into the compositions are horns – trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone [and euphonium], and saxophones of tenor, alto and soprano pitches – that weave in and out of the piano, bass and percussion like a musical ocean-spray that takes the listener to and from the Caribbean island nation’s shores, into the wide world of music.
Pieces such as Caminando and Goldstream, Colores, Polymita and Flamingo Cubano are imbued with character as distinct from one another as the restless waters of the Atlantic tossed upon the Malecón in Havana is from the quietly flowing St Lawrence River rubbing shoulders with the island of Montréal. Bringing it all together is Mr Gutierrez’s refined and diffident pianism, informed by a calibre of virtuosity that leaves one unaware of anything but the music. He doesn’t need to shout his Cubanism out loud for the tradition to which he adheres. He slips quietly into montuno rhythm as if it were organic to any musical idiom that is in focus at the time. His is an empathetic relationship between fingers that caress the keys and an irrepressible tendency to shapeshift the pulse, frequently nudging the rhythmic flow between the many worlds of music that he inhabits.
The pianist is joined by a group of performers that are utterly sympathetic to his vision and musical conception. As a result, the Julian Gutierrez’s Project performs these works like a well-oiled machine that reverberates with music – now Afro-Cuban ensconced in Jazz, now Jazz flowing into an Afro-Cuban palette; melodies, harmonies and rhythms that spring from febrile musical minds, captured in the warmth of a beautiful recording.
Tracks – 1: Adaptate; 2: Canard Goûteux; 3: Caminando; 4: Goldstream; 5: Colores; 6: Polymita; 7: Flamingo Cubano; 8: Piloto Automatico
Musicians – Julian Gutierrez Vinardell: piano, compositions, and arrangements; Jean-François Martel: electric bass and arrangements; Axel Bonnaire: drums; Eugenio “Kiko” Osorio: congas and percussion. Guest Musicians – João Lenhari: flugelhorn and trumpet [1, 6]; Jean-Pierre Zanella: soprano and alto saxophones [5, 6, 8]; Guillaume Carpentier: tenor saxophone [4, 7] and tenor and alto saxophone arrangements [3, 7]; Muhamed Abdoul Al Khabir: trombone solo and euphonium. Arrangers – Dominic Rossi and Maxime Béchard-Pelletier: trumpet arrangements [3, 7]; Mathieu Tarlo and Jean-Philippe Dutil: trombone and euphonium arrangements [3, 7]
Released – 2023
Label – Independent
Runtime – 58:41
YouTube Playlist – Julian Gutierrez’s Project: Goldstream
In Conversation with Ángel “Papote” Alvarado: Desde Ponce a Nueva York
Gerry López: No Way Back
Pianist, Composer Olivia Pérez-Collellmir Releases Debut Album: “Olivia”
Jorge Luis Pacheco: The Lockdown Album
De Ponce A Nueva York: Ángel “Papote” Alvarado y el Grupo Esencia
Vistel Brothers: Fiesta en el Batey
Christmas Classic “Asalto Navideño Vol. II” Gets New Vinyl Reissue
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band: Vox Humana
Arturo O’Farrill, Omar Sosa and Etienne Charles Bring Latin Jazz to the DC JazzFest
Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal Present “They Shot the Piano Player” at TIFF 2023
The Latin Side of Jazz · Episode 33
The Rodriguez Brothers: Reunited – Live at Dizzy’s Club
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 Albums6 months ago
Aymée Nuviola feat. Kemuel Roig: Havana Nocturne
News8 months ago
Grammy Nominated Jane Bunnett and Maqueque to release new recording: ‘Playing With Fire’
News8 months ago
Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band to release new recording: “Vox Humana”
Album Reviews8 months ago
Gia Fu Presents: Ángel Meléndez X Big Band Máquina