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From Where I Stand by Bill Ortiz

Veteran Connecticut-based music critic, Ed Jennings, reviews From Where I Stand, A Diverse Musical Journey from Santana’s Supernatural Trumpeter, Bill Ortiz"Bill Ortiz’s debut CD, From Where I Stand is an amazing mix of Neo-Soul, R&B and Nu-Jazz, from the trumpet player of Santana."Listeners are in for a unique experience of sounds and vibrations awaiting them on From Where I Stand. There is a mature depth to the soundscapes mined by established musician, composer, producer Bill Ortiz. Bill’s collaborations with San Francisco based co-producers, Lloyd (The Platinum Finger) Richmond and Steffen Franz (Stand Out Selector) yields a positive, diversified result. This audio CD will take you to new places; exposing you to beats, rhythms you’ve been longing to hear. Let’s examine the meaning of the musical genres and qualify those trends in relationship to the recorded tracks.Neo-soul is a musical genre that fuses contemporary R&B and 1970s-style soul with the elements of hip-hop. Neo-Soul music is essentially modern-day soul music, with fashionable attitudes and sensibilities. It differs from contemporary R&B in that it's obviously more soulful, and it also tends to have deeper messages and meanings than typical current R&B.Nu-Jazz is a new era in music, blending ethereal soundscapes with hypnotic rhythms and sensuous instrumentals.(The tracks reviewed are categorized Neo-Soul, Nu-Jazz and R&B with the following symbols.) Neo-Soul = ns, Nu-Jazz = nj, Rhythm & Blues = rbRight from the first note of the initial track AyeJaye (ns), you know where you stand with your musical guide, Bill Ortiz. You are swept away on a magic carpet ride of orchestrated funk. Very quickly, Santana band mates, Benny Rietveld, (Bass) and Karl Perazzo (Percussion), pick up the rhythm on this track carrying you in a danceable direction. Bill Ortiz steps right in on top adding a rich layer of trumpet sounds. The various well-sequenced samples and audio effects round out this tune. Little Sister, Little Brother (rb) is reminiscent of an old soul standard laden with honey. Regina Espinoza’s vocals intermix with the instrumental mood like a well-steeped late night cup of tea. The more you sip of this blend the more relaxed you become. The songwriting/production partnership with Lloyd (The Platinum Finger) Richmond reaches a high point with Ease My Mind (ns). The track does just what it sets out to accomplish by creating a mellow groove that puts you right at ease. Its like old friends who haven’t seen each other in awhile falling right back in step naturally as if no time has passed. Kenny Byars (Vocals and Song Co-Author) adds the right touch of modern soul with his spirited voice. Bill Ortiz’s trumpet playing echoes the sentiment expressed with extra flourish.The instrumental track, Full Circle (nj) exhibits Bill Ortiz’s versatile skills with the trumpet, Arp Synth, Moog Bass, and samples. It’s a lively, upbeat composition smartly complemented by the other musicians onboard Peter Horvath (Wurlitzer Piano), Jubu Smith (Guitar), Sly Randolph (Drums, Midi Drums) and Jesus Diaz (Congas Bata, Percussion) Slip Into This (ns) starts off sounding like an old vinyl record to help in the transition from vintage soul to neo-soul. With no hesitation the funk builds then sustains itself throughout the track. Mone’t Owens provides just the right saucy soulstress vocal to spice up this selection with a repeatable chorus."Let go, relax your mind, unwind and slip into it" Don’t worry if you felt that this track was too short or that you didn’t get enough pleasure from Slip Into This. Three tracks later we are treated to a hip-hop/rap remix, Slip Into It (Yay Area Remix) (ns), with Mone’t’s vocals treating us again. She is joined vocally by Joshua Richmond Durham aka Fivehunnet Rap as MC.Judgment Day is infectious as a rescaled, fast-clip, reggae tune with Bill Ortiz playing flugelhorn and muted trumpet. A little later on Judgment Day morphs into a dub track, Judgment Dub (Ras Dru Remix) with Rocker-T on vocals and lyrics, Ras Dru on Nybingi Drums. The dub track evidences how diverse a recording From Where I Stand truly is.In Every Breath (ns) is a tribute to the late soul musician Donny Hathaway. Church Boy performs the vocals over a well-crafted, measured jazz instrumental riff. The track then shifts to a soul funk that personifies the classic touch of vocals, piano and keyboards that are signature Donny Hathaway.I Still Believe is an inspirational track that closes out the recording. It features vocalist Linda Tillery invoking a charismatic spoken word rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from Oslo, Norway (1964). The music that embellishes the architect of peace’s words strengthens how timeless Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech is 45 years later. It is a fitting way to end From Where I Stand as the truth rings out a poetic wisdom that encircles every heart that listens.Artist: Bill OrtizRecording: From Where I StandLabel: Tangent RecordsAuthor: Ed Jennings - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Ed Jennings:"Music is my passion and my salvation," says Ed Jennings, a life long music fan who resides in Milford, Connecticut, with his wife Rosemary and their son, Matthew. Jennings’ passion for music dates back to the 1970’s when he was a young disc jockey at WNHU-FM 88.7 (University of New Haven) and WVOF-FM 88.5 (Fairfield University). Jennings states, "I believe the live music art form is a very freeing experience and everyone should attend live music performances." And he should know. As a freelance music writer with a passionate appreciation for a wide variety of musical genres, Jennings has reported on almost 300 concerts in 40 years for two leading Connecticut periodicals, the New Haven Advocate and The Entertainer, as well as his two very active blogs, Music Of Our Heart (http://musicofourheart.wordpress.com) and his whimsically christened, albeit very apropos, The Concert Slut: http://theconcertslut.wordpress.com. Jennings is also a technology instructor in the computer network management career track at Branford Hall Career Institute in Southington, Connecticut, and is pursuing a Masters Degree in Education focused on Instructional Design for Online Learning at Capella University online. Contact Ed Jennings at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bill Ortiz
  • CD Title: From Where I Stand
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Tangent Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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