Chris Cortez – Aunt Nasty – Blue Bamboo Music BBM0020, 48:25 ****:
(Chris Cortez – guitars, lead vocals; Glen Ackerman – bass; Guillermo Reza — drums (all except Man With No Arms); Andrew Lienhard – keyboards (all except Man With No Arms): Woody Witt – tenor sax (all except Man with No Arms); Carol Morgan – trumpet; James Metcalf–percussion (all except Aunt Nasty, San Cruz, Fire): Bernard Pierre – background vocals.
Chris Cortez is no newcomer to the music world. He is a guitarist, vocalist bandleader, promoter and owns Blue Bamboo Music Inc. complete with production and studio. My attention was drawn to Chris Cortez several years ago while working as a jazz disc jockey/on air host at KMHD, Portland, Oregon. A listener called in to comment about Chris’ music. I researched and picked up several of his albums and was pleased with his sound. He is eclectic and turns in very good sessions producing very listenable albums. He has 20 CDs to his credit.
Aunt Nasty, his latest release May 2012, features three vocals and nine instrumental tunes. Listening to the album conjures up in my mind a mystery musical house with many doors. Each time you open a door a different sound comes out. Sprinkled through the album are some short compositions based on Disney tunes Chris reworked for another production. They are composed in a minor sound with perhaps slower time signatures and not the usual happy sound that emanated from the original themes. Chris described it “like a sorbet between course, to cleanse your pallet. Bon Appetite!!” The first time I heard these short tunes, I thought them rather odd but after hearing them and learning of Chris’ description, I have to say that it works. One of the things important to me in hearing an album is a change in color of the music. Aunt Nasty works it!
The title song “Aunt Nasty” is just plain fun. A down home southern blues sound complete with some great percussion, keyboard and cool harmonica. Add to that the great vocal from Chris Cortez and I count it as my favorite selection of the album. I caught a hint of a Steely Dan sound to this tune. The tune ends suddenly and left me wondering what now, and in comes one of the little departure cleansing short melodies of a minor version of “When You Wish Upon A Star” 47 seconds long. As I said earlier, that works as the following tune paints a whole different musicscape with a heavy Latin rhythm in a samba style called “While My Guitar Weeps”. A bit of change yet still in the Latin genre is the descriptive vocal of Chris’ “The Man With No Arms” which is decidedly a bit of a thought-provoking message and quoting part of the lyrics “It’s not what happened to you, it’s what you do that counts”. Another instrumental favorite for me was “San Cruz” with a Latin sound, rhythm, keyboards and a cool horn section. The last track is “Fire” with Chris playing guitar… well, I should say wails a bit on his guitar showing some great chops coupled with his cool vocals with a background vocalist Bernard Pierre. There is a timbre; sort of a little raspiness in Chris’ voice that hits the spot for this rockin’ tune.
I have to remark I enjoyed the album and the quality of the production is clear and good. There are good liner notes which include the lyrics to “Aunt Nasty” and “The Man With No Arms”. They were based on real people and events according the notations.
TrackList: 1. Caravan; 2. Aunt Nasty; 3. When You Wish Upon A Star; 4. While My Guitar gently Weeps; 6. The Man With No Arms; 7. Mickey Mouse Club; 8. Aarrgh; 9. Invitation; 10. It’s A Small World After All; 11. San Cruz; 12. Fire.
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