Diego Rivera – With Just a Word – Posi-Tone

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

A “just right” release from Diego Rivera …

Diego Rivera – With Just a Word – Posi-Tone PR 8253 – 52:13 – ****

(Diego Rivera – tenor sax; Pete Rodriguez – trumpet, congas; Art Hirahara – piano; Luques Curtis – bass; Rudy Royston – drums)

If mainstream jazz fans could look up the word “dependable” in their “jazz dictionary,” they might find a picture of the Posi-Tone logo. Marc Free, the Posi-Tone Records head honcho, has figured out a formula to share straight ahead, largely small group sessions, that just feel “just right.” It’s feel-good jazz that brings a smile to the face, and some serious head nodding while listening.

Marc uses a stable of roster artists, both seasoned, and with a constant call-up of up and coming artists that soon make a name for themselves. Veterans Michael Dease, Mike DiRubbo, and Steve Davis lend their talents to folks like Brian Charette, Jared Gold, and Behn Gillece.

We can add tenor saxophonist, Diego Rivera, to the list, as he is making a name for himself with several CDs on the label. His latest is a quintet session backed by rising star pianist, Art Hirahara, and trumpeter, Mike Rodriguez. Completing the rhythm section are two regulars, who need no introduction – bassist Luques Curtis, and drummer, Rudy Royston. Luques and Rudy are found on many Posi-Tone sessions, and for good reason. They are first class, and steadily employed. I’d call them a mini “Wrecking Company” jazz duo, a guarantee of swing.

Rivera’s With Just a Word CD, released this month, is another top notch Posi-Tone winner. The two front line horns blend like a fine red wine and a filet mignon steak. Whether it’s a ballad, or a take no prisoners burner, Rivera and Rodriguez fit the bill. First call label pianist, Art Hirahara lends his talents with sparkling piano choruses. 

With nine solid tracks (six Rivera originals and a track each from Carlos Santana/Tom Coster (“Europa’), and Tony Williams’ “Pee Wee,”) it’s a great mix. Concise, and with tight arrangements in the four to six minute range, the selections flow nicely.

Highlights include “Europa,” an intoxicating modal gem, with Diego’s tenor solo dripping with emotion, and Hirahara’s classy piano accompaniment. The title track shows Rivera’s mid-range warmness, relaxed and in the pocket groove. “Song of the Underground Railroad” is a runaway train of blistering fire, while “Dignified Response,” has Pete Rodriguez’ trumpet, mellow like a fine scotch.

The CD ends with “Machete,” with its Latin salsa beat, inspiring a get up and dance response.

Kudos to Diego Rivera and Posi-Tone for yet another mainstream thumbs way-up release.

—Jeff Krow

Diego Rivera – With Just a Word

Once Again, Always
With Just a Word
Tinte Latino
Pee Wee
Song of the Underground Railroad
Dignified Response
Mandela’s Muse

More information through Posi-Tone, Bandcamp

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Album Cover for Diego Rivera - With Just a word

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