Luciano's Dream is the long overdue debut recording from the fiercely talented young reedman Oscar Noriega. Like many downtown jazz players, Noriega's musical vision is very wide in scope, encompassing, from the sounds of this record, the rich history of jazz, myriad folk musics, as well as 20th century classical sounds. Thankfully, the album does not read like a hodgepodge of disparate musical influences, but rather a wide-ranging and satisfying musical document. Of course, this is due in no small part to his capable partners in crime: trumpeter Cuong Vu, guitarist Brad Shepik, and drummer Tom Rainey. This dexterous, bass-less quartet navigates Noriega's complicated charts with ease, from throwing down odd-meter grooves in "Funky Number 5" to displaying unearthly restrain with the delicate gypsy beauty of "The Z." Shepik is especially impressive; though the album does touch upon the jazz-inflected Balkan styles that have become his calling card, he is clearly more than capable of operating in just about any idiom he chooses. His whimsical solo on "Kashiko Hito" is among the album's highlights. Noriega's alto saxophone seems completely effortless, darting and weaving in and out of the dense musical landscape, while his bass clarinet breathes stark melancholy. His impressive sideman credentials have already proven him an able player, here he asserts himself as a skillful composer and bandleader.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tom Benton