Issue July 3, 2012

Orbiting

The Aruán Ortiz Quartet
FRESH SOUND/NEW TALENT

Cuban-born pianist Ortiz embraces progressive jazz more than Afro-Cuban here. He’s chosen top-notch musicians to capture his vision on this adventurous album: guitarist David Gilmore, bassist Rashaan Carter and drummer Eric McPherson. Whether covering Bird (“Koko”) or playing original tunes, the quartet produces a dense ensemble sound with edgy interplay. The opener, “Ginga Carioca” by Hermeto Pascoal, provides a template, as the musicians join in knotty, intertwined playing following Ortiz. Carter solos with careful attention to rhythmic spacing. Ortiz’s original title track finds Gilmore exploring over strong piano patterns before the leader delves into the lower register for his solo. “Numbers” is ruminative, leading to what, curiously, is the most down-to-earth, swinging piece here, Ornette Coleman’s “W.R.U.” “Alone Together” closes with an updated yet respectful reading. Ortiz shows throughout why he has been the first-call for artists like Wallace Roney.