CARLOS JIMENEZ: Woods
New York-based flutist Carlos Jimenez rolls out his latest album, Woods, consisting of ten tracks of all original instrumental compositions fronting his quartet with Hector Martignon on piano, Ruben Rodriguez on bass, and Vince Cherico on drums. Produced by Jimenez, the project was engineered, mixed, and mastered by Kostadin Kamcev at Mozart Studios in Little Falls, New Jersey.
The influence of pianist/composer Chick Corea’s original “Return to Forever” group, featuring Joe Farrell on flute a half century ago, has left an indelible footprint on those who have followed. However, make no mistake, Jimenez’ compositions, flute mastery, and fellow musos in the quartet strike their own identity throughout.
There’s a diverse serving of rhythmic grooves in which all four members get to shine. “You’re the Best” and “Bamboo Path” are two “cool jazz” tunes where Jimenez and Martignon improvise effortlessly over the chord changes on flute and piano respectively.
On “Wheelbarrow Blues” and the down-home bluesy track, “Snuggle and Cuddle,” Jimenez and Martignon demonstrate their improvisational mastery throughout their solos, with Rodriguez stepping out front with a tasty bass solo on the latter.
“Eyes Over Dawn,” a 6/8 time jazz waltz, features some stellar brush work from Cherico on drums along with another nice bass solo from Rodriguez. The band gets funky on “Dreams of Brazil,” with Cherico tearing it up on drums in tandem with punchy “baby bass” lines from Rodriguez, amid syncopated rhythmic conversations with Martignon on piano.
The breezy laid-back title track, “Woods,” puts Jimenez front and center effortlessly flowing through his solo with expressive flutters dancing over the chord changes, followed by Martignon tickling the ivories of his Fender Rhodes piano with fluid phrasing and perfectly executed rapid musical lines.
“Not That Far Away,” the only true ballad track, Jimenez shines with a lovely lilting melody and solo throughout with a brief bass solo from Rodriguez before taking it home. The ten-minute-plus up-tempo track “Smoketacular” features all in the quartet, highlighted by an intense musical conversational exchange between Martignon on piano and Cherico on drums, reminiscent of pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Alphonse Mouzon back in the early 1970s.
The album concludes with “Outside in the Rain,” a straight-ahead jazz cooker with an opening melody head that could be a strong candidate for an opening television theme. Jimenez leaves no doubt here about his flawless articulation and improvisational mastery on his instrument, bolstered by a high level of musicianship from the other three, making this a delightful listen from start to finish.