Oskar Cartaya

My Music, My Friends, My Time

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The title of bass player Oskar Cartaya's debut solo record, My Music, My Friends, My Time, could seem ostentatious after reading the credits list. The personnel on the 2004 release reads like a rough guide to Latin jazz heavy hitters and bad boys. The percussion section alone, including Giovanni Hidalgo, Bobby Allende, Alex Acuña, and Marc Quiñones, goes beyond dream team status. It's hard to believe that any player could count such a crew among his "friends." All doubts are removed after taking a peak at Cartaya's own list of credits, which is even more impressive than his list of personal buddies. Somehow managing to fly below the radar of Latin fusion superstardom, Cartaya has been playing for and with the biggest names and baddest players in the genre. Cartaya puts his all-star lineup to very good use, perhaps even giving them a run for their money. With elusive, languid grooves and regularly morphing time, it's clear that Cartaya's compositions come from the bottom up. Some outdated '80s-esque sound sources aside, the music is incredibly engaging, and the writing is oftentimes as sophisticated as the playing. From Charles Mingus to Ray Brown, bass players have often made some of jazz's finest writers, and Cartaya is excellent modern proof. Though this relatively unknown player probably won't get the recognition, My Music, My Friends, My Time could be one of the best Latin jazz releases of the decade.

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