By Jeff Potter | Published June 2017
Drummer/composer Gustavo Cortiñas’ second disc as a leader intends to unite his dual passions of music and philosophy. The music, he explains, was “inspired by prominent figures in the history of Western philosophy,” and his 11 compositions were meant to “illustrate their concepts of being.” That could potentially be a red flag for an intellectual slog. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cortiñas’ music is uplifting, robust, melodic and gets your body moving; it’s an exciting blend of the artist’s musical influences from jazz and Latin America, including his native Mexico.
Raised in Mexico City, Cortiñas currently resides in Chicago, where he tapped the latest edition of his band, Snapshot, from the city’s impressive wave of emerging young players. Bassist Kitt Lyles, trumpeter Justin Copeland and tenor saxophonist Roy McGrath are on board again, along with guitarist Hans Luchs, pianist Joaquín García, trombonist Adam Thornburg and Artie Black alternating on the tenor chair.
Esse draws from a wide palette with a more organic jazz/world musical integration. The winning opener, “Dialects Of Freedom” show-cases the band’s shape-shifting ease. Following 12 lone, determined bass drum beats, syncopations subtly emerge from the band, revealing that the groove was not at all what our ears anticipated. It’s appropriate the set should close with the contemplative “The Man Of Flesh And Bone,” a ballad sumptuously colored by Joaquín’s gorgeous, expressive keyboard touch.
Esse: Dialectics Of Freedom; Filosofia; The Allegory Of The Cave; Intro To Arête; Arête; Cogito Ergo Sum; Global Skepticism; On Certainty; Ubermensch; Intro To The Man Of Flesh And Bone; The Man Of Flesh And Bone. (75:53)
Personnel: Gustavo Cortiñas, drums, cymbals; Justin Copeland, trumpet; Roy McGrath, tenor saxophone (2, 6, 7, 9, 10); Artie Black, tenor saxophone (1, 3, 4, 5, 8); Adam Thornburg, trombone; Hans Luchs, guitar, Joaquín García, piano; Kitt Lyles, bass.