Gabriel Guerrero is blest with a masterful musical intellect. This enables him to form gorgeous melodic ideas that seemingly appear out of nowhere to captivate the heart and mind of the listener for listen they must as Guerrero creates wondrous whorls of songs, resplendent in melody and harmony, and rich in the rhythm of his mystical Colombian roots. These roots have given rise to wide and wind-swept branches that cover a wide imaginary swathe of musical topography from Colombia through the rest of Latin America to the United States and on to Europe. The pianist has technique that would make him a magnificent concert hall pianist, playing the music of the Great Composers of decades gone by. However he has chosen to play the music of his American idol, Bud Powell from whom he drawn broad inspiration. In finding his own voice, however, Guerrero appears to have combined Powell’s classic, delicate melodicism with a strong underpinning of Afro-Caribbean and Latin American rhythm. The result is a singular kind of decorative style laced and accentuated with sinewy rhythms.
His album Feyas is a great start to the career of a musician full of promise. Like some of the finest scholarly pianists-composers (for example: Gonzalo Rubalcaba) to come from way south of the border, Guerrero has exploded on the stage with music of immense maturity. Although his virtuosity shines through the spotlight always remains on depth of thought, complexity of ideas that build in logic as well as unbridled creativity from a soulful wellspring to a wonderful conclusion. Thus his immense musical intellect shines through. His composition “Charlie,” for instance is spun out like a masterfully constructed spider’s stratagem, which is beguiling and mesmerizingly slow at first, then reveals itself for the powerful vortex that it contains, which, in turn, draws the listener into its tonal center with a spectacular harmonic design spun with rapturous delight. Although it comes from a completely different source (bebop music) Guerrero’s re-invention of Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco” makes a remarkable statement about the relationship of rhythm that lies at the heart of both Afro American music and the music that Guerrero grew up with in his heart: Colombian folk forms. The manner in which he combines both influences makes foe a wondrous listen.
There is much to cheer about Gabriel Guerrero’s record, Feyas and it includes his compositions, which are bold and rich in the complexity and design of their ideas. Guerrero firmly establishes his voice here as he adds to the remarkably growing literature of Latin American instrumental music. Here he shows how sure he is of himself as he treads sure-footedly through form and function. Above all his playing is hypnotic and completely mesmerizes the listening audience. The pianist also gets stellar assistance from high-power trios with whom he seems to communicate telepathically. This adds to the immense pleasure of listening to this music over and over again.
Tracks: Colombia Tierra Querida; Un Poco Loco; Hope; Charlie; Tonto Malembe; Ritual; Snake Shot; Tango Reflexivo; Crepusculo.
Personnel: Gabriel Guerrero: piano; Jorge Roeder: bass (1, 2, 3); Scott Dodd: bass (4); Luis Guzman: bass (5); Daniel Ori: bass (6); Bruce Gertz: bass (7, 8); Eric Doob: drums (1, 2, 3); Andrew Gander: drums (4); Karina Colis: drums (5); Amaury Acosta: drums (6); Tim Horner: drums (7, 8); Samuel Torres: percussion (1, 2, 3); Paulo Levi: tenor saxophone (4); Jerry Bergonzi: tenor saxophone (7, 8); Ken Cervenka: trumpet (7, 8); Jeff Miles: guitar (6).
Gabriel Guerrero – Official website: www.gabrielguerrero.net
Label: Surca Music
Release date: February 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama