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Drummer and composer Adam Cruz did not choose the title of his debut album lightly.
Milestone is both a professional and personal marker.
I ve had a vision to do something with my composing for a long time, says Cruz. But I ve also felt a certain ripening needed to happen. This is a big step for me. I ve invested a lot of time in practicing and studying, working at my relationship with the piano and developing a compositional voice. I ve just turned 40 and I m happy the record is coming out now. There s a certain amount of growth and maturity that I have gone through, deepening my dedication as a drummer and composer, particularly over the last decade.
Comprising eight original compositions, and featuring a true all star band including Miguel Zenón, alto sax; Steve Wilson, soprano sax; Chris Potter, tenor sax; Steve Cárdenas, electric guitar; Edward Simon, piano, and Ben Street, bass, Milestone, which was made possible by a grant by the Aaron Copland Recording Fund, marks a before and after in Cruz s development as an artist.
This wasn t something I put together in a few months, where I wrote a few tunes, theme-solos-theme, and went to the studio, says Cruz. I ve been watering the seeds over the years, sitting at the piano and going through much trial and error. We all have a tendency to rush things to try to just get them done, and for me it was important to take time to see what was there. I tried to listen for when something felt true, and original.
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Chris Potter on tenor in my opinion one of the freshest voices on tenor to come along since Mike Brecker. On alto sax is Steve Wilson a 30yr veteran of the jazz scene, has worked with Adam alot having also been a member of Corea's band Origin. Also on alto is Miguel Zenon a past winner of the esteemed "Genius" grant & current member of the awesome SF Jazz Collective who just released their newest live disc featuring the music of Stevie Wonder. Edward Simone on piano has worked alot with Adam, also a very active leader & sideman on the NYC jazz scene. Steve Cardenas on electric guitar in my opinion one of the most unique guitar voices in jazz & a veteran of groups led by bassist Ben Allison, Steve plays textural patches of sound with rich & unusual chord voicings. Holding it all together is bassist Ben Street who has played alongside Adam in more than one band during his fruitful career as a jazz & latin jazz bassist.
The eight pieces on Milestone were all written by Cruz & they are complex rich works with the three horn section of Potter, Wilson & Zenon really shining as well as many stand out solos by each sax man. The music in my opinion is a hybrid of modern post bop with subtle hints of latin jazz, funk & world music but I wouldn't label this as fusion, no this is cutting edge modern jazz! Some musical high points for me are track four "The Gadfly" a funky grooving piece with a snake like melody & stand out solos by guitarist Cardenas & Cruz takes a musical drum solo over a tricky vamp. Track 5 "Resonance" is a meditative piece that is almost rubato for the first two minutes as Edward Simone plays a beautiful Bill Evans like piano intro till the rhythm section enters one by one & establish time for a rich classical type three part theme stated by the horns. Outer Reaches is the closest piece to "fusion" in the set but it may be my personal favorite, Simone adds a Fender Rhodes to compliment his acoustic piano which is a nice touch. This song has a head nodding groove with Steve Cardenas turning up the volume alittle bit sounding to my ears like Adam Rogers with Chris Potter's Underground & Ben Street laying down funky ostinatos & interactive basslines. Well there you have it Adam Cruz's first solo album Milestone. I hope you've found the review informative & maybe you've decided to go ahead & check it out. Support Jazz in America.