Lucid Culture


The New CD by Carlos Jimenez Is a Hit

A smooth jazz album called Thoughts.




But wait. Don’t click off the page. This one has some muscle. It may fall into the smooth jazz category, but its melodies and rhythms are pure boricua. With its pristine, oldschool production, jazz flutist Carlos Jimenez’ third album is far superior to any of the elevator stuff you’ll hear on CD 101 or similar stations (although it could find a home there). The Puerto Rican-educated Jimenez, a frequent collaborator with the A-list latin jazz crowd, isn’t afraid to cut loose with a squall or two from time to time. The intelligence of his compositions and arrangements ranks with the best stuff Grover Washington Jr. or the Crusaders did back in the 70s before they got all synthy and slick. Stylistically, Dave Valentin – with whom Jimenez has played, and obviously admires – is the obvious influence, as well as perhaps Hubert Laws in his more energetic moments. The backing unit, which includes bassist Ruben Rodriguez, drummer Vince Cherico and keyboardist Fidel Cuellar is clearly having a lot of fun here, although they don’t get carried away.


The cd opens with the breezy Carlitos My Son, followed by Bluedo, essentially a two-chord vamp with funk bass, giving Jimenez a chance to pick up the pace. No Te Apures (Don’t Worry) features a tasteful bass solo intro over stately acoustic piano chords and imaginative drums. I See Your Smile sets pensive flute and acoustic piano to an insistent guanguanco beat.


The album’s fifth cut, Swift maintains the pace on a similar note. Storm Of Love opens with a sample of waves hitting the beach and then moves into a slow groove driven by triplets while Rodriguez takes another minimalist bass solo. For You & Me is especially choice,  flute and bass sailing over a darkly repetitive tropicalia riff on the piano as Jiminez builds methodically to a tasty crescendo. The cd’s title track is its best, a terrifically lyrical flute melody anchored by plaintive, minimalist piano chords. On the second verse, the bass takes over for the piano as Cuellar gets the chance to step out. The bracing Look At The Sky and Life Is Great revert to the cd’s earlier, ebullient, funky feel. Turn this one up loud in a roomful of jazz purists and you will have a lot of people asking, “Who is this guy?”

July 2, 2008 - Posted by | Music, Reviews

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