‘Points of View’ from Bill Ortiz

Each of the ten pieces Ortiz re-imagines on ‘Points of View‘ was chosen because he felt they would be the best vehicles to showcase his personal voice on trumpet. “At its best,” Ortiz says, “music makes people feel something.” He turns ‘Sunbursts’, the title track from Eddie Henderson’s 1975 album, into an expansive jam featuring wild tempo swings, propulsive percussion, and scorching solos. The late Harold Mabern’s playfully swinging ‘Alex the Great’ offers a prime showcase for the brilliant tandem sparkle of Ortiz and Lawrence (on tenor) and wild soloing by Clark. Wilton Felder’s soulfully sublime early 70s Crusaders romp ‘Ain’t Gon’ Change a Thang’ is pure funk with an Afro Cuban twist and two of the album’s most urgent solos by Ortiz and Lawrence. A spacious, seductive twist on Lonnie Liston Smith’s ‘In Search of Truth’ allows Ortiz to pay homage to saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. Ortiz’s wildly exotic, hypnotically meditative take on Jaco Pastorius’ ‘Okonkolo & Trompa’ is pure Cuban rumba bliss.

A three-song vocal section of the album begins with Terrie Odabi bringing a sense of gospel urgency to the Gil Scott Heron anthem ‘A Toast to the People’, which features Ortiz’s thoughtful conversation with the song’s co-writer, pianist Brian Jackson. The collection’s second Eddie Henderson gem (co-written with César Portillo de la Luz) is the wildly infectious adventure ‘Fusion/Noche Cubana’, a fiery, densely percussive romp featuring Christelle Durandy’s powerhouse lead voice. Among Ortiz’s many musical loves is gospel music, and his doubling on trumpet and flugelhorn creates sizzling horn section energy behind Odabi on ‘Ain’t No Need in Crying’, an uplifting tune originated by the Rance Allen Group in the 70s. The ensemble gets back to the bustling exotica on Wayne Shorter’s ‘Oriental Folk Song’, which ups the original version’s 4/4 into a robust Afro Cuban 6/8. Ortiz chose to wrap the set with the elegant, piano driven ‘My Lord and Master’ (from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King and I‘) to send listeners off with a beautiful feeling.

Press release pack from Mouthpiece Music

Having listened through the album more than once I was left with the feeling that something was missing. I heard the variations in pitch, tempo, and rhythms all of which are well played – particularly the percussion rhythms. The tones from the horns sound clear and full but, for me, feel and sound one dimensional and as a result lack an emotional connection that exempts me from that “beautiful feeling” Bill Ortriz claims to be striving for. The song selection is good with a mix of styles and tempos but that tonal palette is too subdued for my taste: you, of course, may feel very differently.

The release date for this album is 17th June. The record can be found on the Left Angle Records label.

Musicians: Bill Ortiz – trumpet, flugelhorn; Azar Lawrence – tenor sax; Matt Clark – piano, Fender Rhodes; Brian Jackson – piano; Carl Wheeler – Hammond B3 organ; Marcus Shelby – bass;  Marc van Wageningen – electric bass; Dennis Chambers – drums; John Santos – percussion, lead & backing vocals; Javier Navarrette – percussion, backing vocals; Terrie Odabi – lead & backing vocals;  Larry Batiste – backing vocals; Sandy Griffith – backing vocals; Christelle Durandy – lead & backing vocals; Juan Luis Perez – backing vocals.

Tracklist: 1. Sunburst. 2. Alex The Great. 3. Ain’t Gon Change A Thang. 4. In Search Of Truth. 5. Okonkole y Trompa. 6. A Toast To The People. 7. Fusion/Noche Cubana. 8. Ain’t No Need In Crying. 9. Oriental Folk Song. 10. My Lord And Master.

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