Alain Pérez

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Five-string electric bass guitarist Alain Pérez has talent far beyond his deft and dedicated ability to play his instrument. For this debut recording he has written all the music, including the punchy three-part horn charts, and assembled a band of relative unknowns in the general scheme, to produce a unique brand of progressive jazz with Latin underpinnings and far-reaching, fervent, abounding joy. You'd have to ask Pérez where he came up with all of these brilliant ideas to make music so fresh and original. One could surmise he's heard his share of Machito and Tito Puente, with generous helpings of the Gil Evans or Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big bands and a dollop of Jack Bruce as dessert. The music really jumps out of the speakers with the first three outstanding tracks: the title cut with its churning Latin rhythms, contemporary complex horns, and a Fender Rhodes keyboard; the beautiful "120 & 9" with cleverly steamed, boiling, and simmering rhythms constantly shifting up and down; and the bold sounds of "La Canchanchara," a little heavy and a lot happy. This is truly unbelievable music, but there's much more, as a version of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" begins with a ritual chant, kicks into high gear, stutters into a delay mode, and is hard to pin down in its wild construct. "Camino del Oso" is delightfully similar to a Weather Report piece in its hip and heavy, danceable modern Latin overtones. "La Razon" is chunky, funky, and jumpy, "Agarrame Si Puedes" has melded polyrhythms of 6/8 and 4/4 with a Rhodes-led line aside percussion, and there are three vocal cuts led by Pérez ranging from a love song to a Yoruban chant and a tribute to his grandfather. Do not pass up this wonderful, eclectic, and vibrant effort by Alain Pérez, as good as it gets in the contemporary post-salsa progressive Latin jazz music of now.

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