Hilton Ruiz

Enchantment

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New York City-reared pianist Hilton Ruiz honed his style while learning from among the best and brightest in jazz. For Enchantment, the artist enhances his already impressive discography, featuring former bandmate, tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman performing on selected tracks. Ruiz states in the liners, "Play the melodies clearly and make them pretty so people can recognize them and hear the song." To that end, the pianist certainly brings that notion to fruition throughout this exceptional recording. On the opener, Victor Feldman's classic jazz piece "Seven Steps to Heaven," Ruiz, bassist Lisle Atkinson, and drummer Marlon Simon turn the infamous melody into a briskly enacted cooker. Here and throughout, Ruiz intertwines refined elegance with lots of muscle as he seamlessly integrates the Latin musical element with a modern jazz-based methodology. Whereas he displays Art Tatum-like speed via rippling arpeggios and feverishly executed block chords on his original composition titled "Enchantment."Freeman lends his estimable wares on various pieces, spanning bop, the blues, and samba-type grooves. It's a divergent program, also featuring a mood-evoking version of saxophonist Joe Henderson's probing yet tuneful "Black Narcissus." Simply put, Ruiz has designed one of the finest jazz outings of 2003.

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