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Don Gato - íZas! CD (album) cover


Don Gato


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.00 | 2 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Peruvian instrumental quartet led by Antonio Esteban, a veteran guitarist who used to be very active in the underground fusion and psychedelic rock scene in Lima back in the 70s, released this beautiful album íZas! in 2005. The material comprised here features well-ordained interactions among the musicians, clean melodies and elegant solos (by both guitar and synth); it is also noticeable that the bass player has room for soloing in many tracks, a labor he manages quite proficiently. The overall sound offers a balanced mixture of melodic jazz-rock and Latin-jazz, in this way setting a polished fusionesque vibe. At times, you can tell that some guitar leads bear some tendency toward old- fashioned psychedelic rock and/or melodic hard rock: Esteban's style is clearly based on influences from Santana and McLaughlin. There are also times when the keyboard layers and the occasional mood shifts state a certain progressive vibe in the overall sound. The band's ideology is open to eclecticism but pretty obviously this is a jazz-rock effort. The opener 'Oasis' starts with a soft 3/4 motif led by soaring, simple guitar lines: the middle section is a nice, catchy exercise on funk-instilled fusion, while the coda is a brief reprise of the first motif. Sometimes I feel like this track is a bit underdeveloped, but luckily, this sensation is only rare whenever I listen to this album. 'Cleo' sets the initial foundations for the development of the bossanova element within the band's scheme - the elaboration of some funky cadences in the rhythmic structure allows the bass to take advantage of some soloing space. The bossanova thing will reappear quite soon in 'Lipstick X-Change', with a more enthusiastic cadence fed by the addition of subtle Flamenco-jazz flavors. Sandwiched between the two is one of the album's highlights - 'Manongo'. This lovely track starts with a very academic classical guitar intro, and then the whole ensemble gets in and states a magical portrait of Peruvian Coast folklore. The candid colors and the catchy 6/8 rhythms flow together with exquisite ease. 'íTumbes, Tumbes!' is yet another peak, with its heavily charged Latin-jazz condiments alternating so well with a rocking mid section (featuring a superb synth solo, prog style indeed). This track exemplifies the kind of development in variation and contrast that I feel track 1 was partially missing. 'Super X' finds the band once again exploring the peculiar moods of bossanova, this time with an added touch of Flor de Luna-era Santana: similarities can be traced with Chile's Evoluciˇn and the softer side of late 70s Chick Corea. 'Super X' bears a moderately aggressive approach to funk-rock: the keyboard soloing leans more toward the progressive side of things, while the guitar leads display a psychedelic take. Some funny tricks on the 6-string take a hint from The Ventures' surf rock'n'roll. The momentum created by this piece is prolongued by the following one, 'Amiga', a track that starts on a blues-rock mode, then sets a Latin-jazz interlude that forms the basis for the exciting jazz-rock section that fills the track's last 4 minutes. So far, tracks 3, 5, 7 & 8 have made the best of this album, but there's still more fun in store for the listener with 'Talk Spirit, Walk Spirit', an old jazz classic penned by McCoy Tyner (former pianist for John Coltrane's band before going solo). Far from walking on the road of transcription, the group decided to give the original music a Latin-tinged twist regarding both swing and ambience. This colorful ending feels more than appropriate for such a colorful album - "íZas!" is a very captivating album that signals Don Gato as a creative force from Peru's renewed jazz scene.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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