Raul E. Blanco & Jazz Wires – “Land Of Giants” – Self Released
Like so many of his predecessors from Cuba, think Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera, Raul E. Blanco studied music in his native Cuba. Studied is not really accurate. He attended the prestigious Music Conservatory “Alejandro Garcia Caturla” when he was ten years old. During his time there he entered and won several piano music competitions. At eighteen, he moved to the US and settled in Houston, TX, where he taught 3rd Grade music. While teaching music, he was also studying music at Texas Southern University and developed an affinity for jazz. And like his predecessors who came before, developed a piano centric Cuban / Jazz style. In all honesty, “Giants,” while certainly Cuban Jazz, also has hints of reggae, pop and rock based themes. Track 1, the title track, was my favorite due primarily to its strong Smooth Jazz arrangement. The remaining ten tracks may best be summed up as traditional type of jazz with a Cuban influence. Blanco and trombonist Gabriella Aragon also share vocal duties on several tracks. This is primarily a jazz work with a variety of styles – from Cuban, to smooth jazz, to traditional jazz, to world music. Oh, and for all you math fans out there, Track 6, “Tangent” (with the “e” replaced with a numerical representation) was written by trumpetist Noah Austin. He majored in both music and mathematical physics.
Overall: 8; Sonics: 8