The wide world of conventional and extended string techniques, timbral effects and textural shifts characterises the inimitable playing of Chris Cortez on his radiant-sounding hollow-body electric guitar. The melodies that the guitarist creates on Hermanos is borne aloft on floating harmonies together with trumpeter Larry Williams and a superb ensemble that play intuitively and with idiomatic brilliance.
The chart “Glorious” is the apogee of this spirited [and spiritual communion between guitarist and trumpeter. The music begins with a single chord and then unfolds in magnificent spiral form variations geometrically expanding upon each previous one. Each variation grows longer and more elaborate. Slow chords in different registers might give way to slightly louder, more jagged, broken phrases and/or pizzicato outbursts underpinned by sustained, muted sonorities. Ultimately this music reaches a climax in the final seconds in the form of louder sliding chords before winding down.
This is not the only exhibition of brilliance on this recording. The more you listen to this repertoire that highlights guitarist and trumpeter – but also includes woodwinds and a rhythm section that appears to construct a monumental edifice upon which Mr Cortez and Mr Williams hang their canvas, stretching and relaxing it so that we get music that is a kind of multi-dimensional, holographic experience. The stylistic traits of the rest of the cast align perfectly with the joint leaders.
And so, in very short order, this music is intensified and develops a kinetic energy through whirling passages that build up into the dynamo of “Ask me no questions” with its flamenco rhythms heated up with pulsating palmas. Mr Cortez and Mr Williams show that they can also chill in the aspects of the cool with music such as “Silhouette”, ably abetted by the glissandos of Dan Jordan’s flute and the languid comping of pianist Bob Thornton, which develops into a wonderful solo that leaps and pirouettes in wide airy ellipses. This brotherhood of musicians has rarely sounded so good.
Track list – 1: Hermanos; 2: Melody makes it happen; 3: Glorious; 4: Un Pedazo de tu sonrisa; 5: Ask me no questions; 6: Silhouette; 7: Topaz; 8: Polka dot handkerchief; 9: Dj; 10: Territorial imperative; 11: Building on a dream
Personnel – Chris Cortez: guitar; Larry Williams: trumpet and percussion; Dan Jordan: tenor saxophone and flute; Bob Thornton: piano; Marco Bojorquez, Doug Mathews: basses; Walt Hubbard, Jeremy Katalenie, Jeff Sipe: drums
Released – 2021
Label – Blue Bamboo Music
Runtime – 55:33