Roots Music Report reviews Cortez/Williams Project, Hermanos

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Cortez Williams leader picture

Album Review of

Hermanos

Written by Joe Ross
February 3, 2022 – 7:16pm EST

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It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and after four decades, a reunion of Hermanos (brothers) Chris Cortez and Larry Williams in Florida have rekindled a musical collaboration built on a solid foundation of friendship and mutual respect. The result is an exploration of original jazz turf, all presented with a very pleasing balance of savvy, elegance and poise.

While guitarist Cortez and trumpeter Williams met back in the 1980s, their paths took them on different journeys. Cortez formed the Blue Bamboo record label, and eventually resettled back in Orlando to create the Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts.  Williams played in the U.S. Army Bands in Berlin and Wurzburg before returning to Central Florida where he performed, recorded, composed and arranged. Relocating to Los Angeles in 1999, he performed alongside many established jazzmen, becoming a West Coast cool cat who burned with the best.  Williams put out several recordings with his improvisatory group (The LAQT). A bold leap in 2011 led him to hang up his trumpet to focus his musical voice on guitar, EWI, voice, and percussion.

Now back in Orlando (since 2020), Williams has partnered with Cortez to serve up fare that illustrates their depth of experience on a variety of memorable, expressive tracks. Cortez and Williams each composed five songs for the project, and the soulful set is colored with elements of smooth jazz, Latin, pop, upbeat swing and more evocative instrumental balladry. Cortez’s bright title track opens, before giving way to a loving, heartfelt tribute to his wife, “Melody Makes It Happen.”

Williams seems to have written ethereal tunes like “Glorious!,” “Un Pedazo De Tu Sonrisa” and “Building on a Dream” with his guitarist friend in mind, providing Cortez with ample opportunity to shine, just as Williams does himself with flugelhorn as he introduces the head for his self-penned “Polka Dot Handkerchief” before embarking on some dreamy improv. Another standout, at the album’s midpoint, is Cortez’s “Ask Me No Questions” with its jaunty, joyful groove.

The Hermanos are joined by Dan Jordan (tenor sax, flute), Bob Thornton (piano), bassists Marco Bojorquez and Doug Mathews, along with drummers Walt Hubbard, Jeremy Katalenic or Jeff Sipe. Dan Jordan composed a short, snappy one-minute solo interlude called “D J” at track nine, and I would’ve enjoyed hearing the full sextet pursue that one a bit longer. Regardless, the Cortez/Williams’ Project’s “Territorial Imperative” appears to be one of making a consistently satisfying, high-powered, lyrically strong jazz statement. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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