Title: Hidden Voices
Artist: Aruán Ortiz Trio, Feat. Eric Revis & Gerald Cleaver
Format: CD, MP3
Release Date: January 29, 2016
The Cuban-born citizen of the world Aruán Ortiz has released another in a long line of prolific projects, this time backed by bassist Eric Revis and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Sporting a style that he calls “Cuban Cubism,” Ortiz and company demonstrate influences from both the Latin and avant-garde wings of jazz, with a decided emphasis on the latter. This is evident at a cursory glance at the track listing — Ortiz and company included an Ornette Coleman medley of “Open & Close” and “The Sphinx.” This modernist impulse also appears on cuts such as “Analytical Symmetry,” and the two part “Arabesques of a Geometrical Rose,” tracks culled from a six concert series titled Music and Architecture (inspired by Iannis Xenakis’s volume of the same name) in which the pianist/composer and his sidemen developed musical themes based upon architectural patterns and non-musical contexts.
Due in part to the group’s abstract approach, many listeners will not hear much that they find familiar on this release, either melodically or conceptually. While Ortiz and company do perform Thelonious Monk’s “Skippy” and the traditional Cuban song “Uno, dos ye tres, que paso más chévere,” these are primarily vehicles for the group’s improvisations that are more “out there” than their musical templates might suggest. Like much avant-garde jazz, this release requires considerable effort for listeners to penetrate the cerebral compositions and deep interpretations generated by Ortiz, Revis, and Cleaver. This is an asset ultimately, but a challenging one that demands listeners pay the close and repeated attention that Hidden Voices ultimately requires.
Reviewed by Matthew Alley