Chris Cortez: Live At Blue Bamboo

Guitar-led, Florida-based group brings plenty of musical colour to tunes ranging from Pat Martino’s The Visit to Zawinul's A Remark You Made

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Live At Blue Bamboo captures two concerts with different line ups given by guitarist Cortez given at Blue Bamboo Centre For the Arts in Florida. The constants throughout the album are Cortez on guitar and pianist Bob Thornton, with the first lineup adding drummer Jeff Sipe, bassist Doug Mathews and flautist Dan Jordan.

There are three covers on the album, including the opener, Pat Martino’s The Visit. Playing with a driving energy, Cortez’s guitar starts the track with a warm lead as the band weave around a complex arrangement; the piece has a particularly virtuosic solo from Thornton. Next is Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic That’s The Way Of The World, which is given a traditional jazz treatment. Jordan plays the melody in unison with Cortez, and the rhythm section gently swings.

The upbeat Arlington Park is the first track featuring the alternate lineup, with Joel Rosenblatt of Spyro Gyra providing intricate drums and Jenkins offering a tight bass-line. The horn section of Jeff Rupert and John DePaola, on tenor saxophone and trumpet respectively, adds a new dimension to the ensemble. The same lineup also performs the fifth track Different Strokes, a fast-paced minor-key piece, and the seventh, Aarrgh, a bluesy groove with a gritty guitar riff.

Joe Zawinul’s ballad A Remark You Made is played on solo acoustic guitar, and Cortez’s interpretation offers a subtle yet imaginative end to the album.

Released on Cortez’s own label, Live At Blue Bamboo presents a skilled ensemble creating compelling music via interesting arrangements of both covers and originals. It shows there’s still plenty of mileage in modern mainstream jazz.

Discography
The Visit; That’s The Way Of The World; Arington’s Park; Awakenings; Different Strokes; Aarrgh; Melody Makes It Happen; The Rose Of Shalamar; A Remark You Made (59.35)
Cortez (g); Bob Thornton (p); Joel Rosenblatt, Jeff Sipe (d); Ron Jenkins, Doug Mathews (b); Jeff Rupert (ts); John DePaola (t); Dan Jordan (f). Florida, May 2020 and February and April 2022.  
Blue Bamboo Music BBM028