In his debut album, L.A. guitarist Chris Mello makes use of all his childhood musical influences, from Pat Methany to Brazilian singer Luciana Souza to John Coltrane. In an amazing combination of sounds, Mello gives us 10 original, unique compositions that combine the harmonies of traditional jazz with the rhythms and grooves of Latin America and Africa.
"Rumba Para Zaza" is a Rumba Guaguanco dedicated to Mello’s grandfather. Mello’s lyrical melodic line plays nicely over the aggressive, fast-paced groove set by the rhythm section. His playing on this tune reflects some of his Pat Methany influence. The fast pace doesn’t feel frantic, however, and there’s time for some nice drum breaks by Aaron Serfaty.
"Luciano" was inspired by the Brazilian singer of the same name. In contrast to the opener, this piece has a laid-back, relaxed feel. Woodblocks add some Brazilian spice to the mix and keep it grooving. Again, Mello’s melodies and solo work is very lyrical. "Preguntas" is Mello’s attempt at combining the Brazilian style of baion with Columbian cumba. The result is very upbeat, suited for dancing. Rene Camacho does some nice bass work on this tune as well.
"Clavecity" uses some interesting jazz phrases and harmonies in combination with a mambo groove. There are a lot of chordal hits and pops one would expect to hear more often from a big band, as well as some layering of harmonic and rhythmic lines. The overall sound is infectious. "Unnoticed Moments" borrows the chord changes from John Coltrane’s "Moment’s Notice" and combines them with a South African groove. Like all the tunes on this album, it has its own unique groove that seems to fit well with the changes. Some of the best solos of the album are played on this tune, especially keyboardist Otmaro Ruiz.While these are only a few selections from the album, I would recommend checking out every track. The more you listen to it, the more rhythmic and harmonic intricacies you’ll find. The overall musicianship is superb and the style is something completely new. Definitely a musician to keep an eye on!