Hector Martignon has done a great work with his third album Refugee. The title song, "Refugee", is a hard driving tour de force with a deeply grounded bass line from the accomplished Cameroonian bass virtuoso Richard Bona. With the bottom firmly established by Richard, Willard Dyson on drums and Samuel Torres on a manic percussive foray, Hector shows his musical compositional skills with many midstream changes of time and darting acoustical piano solos all sending home a mainstream sound with a decidedly Latin flavor. Richard’s flawlessly executed bass solo is a joy to behold in its technical virtuosity and endless creativity. On "99 Macdougal" & " Tomorrow’s Past", Hector takes off on electric piano behind a different rhythm section made up of John Benitez on bass and Horacio " El Negro" Hernandez on drums, along with the ever frenetic Torres. This group has a totally different feel and the high point here is the wonderfully fluid Latin inspired guitar work by Edgardo Miranda, a talent I was previously unaware of and will be sure to keep my eyes out for in the future.
Hector’s vocal foray on "Observatory" is sensitively rendered, but the song takes off after he takes to the ivories, backed by the able Matt Garrison on bass, Latin percussionist Dafnis Prieto on drums and Mark Whitfield on guitar. From the liner notes its appears that Kenny Baron was a strong influence and teacher to Hector and so hearing the two play counterpoint to each other, with Hector on acoustic piano and Kenny on electric piano. "Eddie’s Ready" is a tune Hector created especially for the other virtuoso bass player on this album, Eddie Gomez. Here Hector starts off with a synchronized exchange with Eddie’s bass that leads into a some fine solo work by Eddie complete with his audible voicing, probing this Martignon composed vehicle to the fullest. Hector’s piano work is driven by Gomez’s steady but challenging bass lines all the while being subtly anchored by the accomplished but not overpowering percussion work of Watts and Figueroa. "You Won’t Forget Me" is a blues oriented, straight ahead ballad that showcases Mark Whitfield on guitar and has a strong and facile performance by Matt Garrison on bass. Here Hector demonstrates that his abilities while strongly Latin influenced are not stuck in this one modality.
The finale is a wonderful Don Grolnick tune "Nothing Personal" made famous by Michael Brecker on his debut album. Here Hector is on electric piano and Richard Bona plies his rapid fire bass, constantly challenging the already formidable timing and showcasing their formidable chops on a tune that lends itself perfectly to such a journey. Once again Edgardo Miranda’s guitar work is a noteworthy counterpoint, as is Willard Dyson’s drum work. All in all Hector Martignon’s album Refugee is a satisfying piece of music that brings together artistry on many different fronts, doesn’t pigeon hole him as a Latin only player and opens the door for us to keep a watchful eye on Hector’s developing and undeniable talents.