José Luis Gámez

Dr. Jekyll

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One has to give great credit to guitarist Joe Luis Gamez and his quintet for tackling a host of jazz covers that are rarely touched because of their harmonic difficulty or twinned lyrical concerns. If you add to this Gamez's consummate skill as a composer for an ensemble, you have a jazz quintet -- and a leader -- worth celebrating. Opening his program is "Will You Still Be Mine," with solos blazing through the middle registers of piano and guitar, arpeggios sharply consonant with one another, and the melody extrapolated upon to reveal a hidden, harmonic ninth in the interval that is exploited by the entire band. On Jimmy Giuffre's "Gotta Dance," Gamez inverts the roles played by Giuffre and Jim Hall and Gamez takes the clarinet role, playing a large series of chords to warm up the middle before launching into a solo that shines in its innate lyricism. Big points go to Gamez for tackling Coltrane's "Impressions" (in a way that emphasizes harmony rather than soloing) and Bud Powell's "Parisian Thoroughfare." Here Gamez is stunning in his ability to read through Powell's dense arpeggiatic sensibility to find his chromaticism in the heart of the intervallic structure. Whew! This may be the best jazz guitar record this label has issued.

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