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New album from Santana trumpeter Bill Ortiz

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    Posted: 13 Jun 2022 at 7:01pm
Available June 17th, 2022

One of the Bay Area’s most dynamic multi-genre trumpeters for over four decades, BILL ORTIZ recorded and toured the world with Santana for 16 years – starting with the multi-Grammy winning Smooth album – and has recorded and/or performed with legends of jazz (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea), Latin (Tito Puente, Pete Escovedo), rock/blues (Boz Scaggs, Buddy Guy) and R&B (Tony Toni Toné, TLC, En Vogue, Destiny’s Child).
POINTS OF VIEW, the title of his first solo album in ten years (and first since leaving Santana in 2016), perfectly reflects the great array of influences and the freewheeling playing and stylistic approach he brings to a wide range of classic pieces while leading an ensemble of fellow Bay Area greats in addition to legendary featured guests, drummer DENNIS CHAMBERS and saxophonist AZAR LAWRENCE
On his previous two albums, From Where I Stand (2009) and Highest Wish (2012), Ortiz drew on his experiences touring with Tony Toni Toné (as a band member and featured soloist on multiple tours and five albums) and other popular pop/soul groups to fuse the harmonic adventurousness of his jazz roots with the fabric of culturally relevant, socially conscious R&B and hip-hop music. His idea was to document that part of his career and identity. In contrast, POINTS OF VIEW finds the well-traveled musician returning to his roots as an improvisational jazz player. After a period of regrouping creatively and career-wise post Santana, Ortiz sees this project as an opportunity to re-establish himself as an artist and produce a collection true to that core, foundational and most personal voice. 
Ortiz’s goal in selecting the musicians to help him fulfill his genre-transcendent, polyrhythmic, and deeply improvisational vision for POINTS OF VIEW was simple: that they “were open enough not to be locked into a run of the mill, play it safe jazz record.” The trumpeter adds, “I like players who, like me, color outside the lines and strive for exciting interactions that make people listen and react, so that every time they play it, it tells a different story and goes to fresh, unheard places. I wanted these guys to play off each other and jump into the oblivion of the unknown. Afro Cuban music is a huge part of my life, and I welcomed genre greats like JOHN SANTOS who could inspire me to take that passion to the next level.” 
The core band includes SANTOS on percussion and other Bay Area stalwarts, including pianist and Rhodes player MATT CLARK, who has worked with Bobby Hutcherson, Marcus Shelby and Joshua Redman; and bassist MARCUS SHELBY, leader of the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra since 2001, who has recorded with Ledisi and Tom Waits, among others.
Also on hand are veteran drummer DENNIS CHAMBERS, a Modern Drummer Hall of Famer who anchored Santana for 14 of the years Ortiz toured with the legendary guitarist; saxophonist AZAR LAWRENCE, a part of Ortiz’s musical upbringing whose iconic 70s albums (including Bridge Into a New Age) the trumpeter revered during his formative years; pianist BRIAN JACKSON, known for his 70s collaborations with Gil Scott-Heron; percussionist JAVIER NAVARRETTE (Poncho Sanchez, Conga Kings); Hammond B-3 player CARL WHEELER (Andra Day, Andre Crouch, Jonathan Butler); electric bassist MARK VAN WAGENINGEN (Tower of Power); lead vocalists TERRIE ODABI, a multiple Blues Music Award nominee, and CHRISTELLE DURANDY (Paul Carlon Octet, Koko Jones) and backing vocalists LARRY BATISTE, SANDY GRIFFITH and JUAN LUIS PEREZ.
Each of the ten pieces Ortiz chose to re-imagine on POINTS OF VIEW was chosen because he felt they would be the best vehicles to showcase his personal voice on trumpet. Though there are no originals, he and his cohorts make each song their own. He turns “Sunbursts,” the title track from Eddie Henderson’s 1975 album, into an expansive jam featuring wild tempo swings, propulsive percussion, and scorching solos. The late Harold Mabern’s playfully swinging “Alex the Great” offers a prime showcase for the brilliant tandem sparkle of Ortiz and Lawrence (on tenor) and wild soloing by Clark. Wilton Felder’s soulfully sublime early 70s Crusaders romp “Ain’t Gon’ Change a Thang” is pure funk with an Afro Cuban twist and two of the album’s most urgent solos by Ortiz and Lawrence. A spacious, seductive twist on Lonnie Liston Smith’s “In Search of Truth” allows Ortiz to pay homage to saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. Ortiz’s wildly exotic, hypnotically meditative take on Jaco Pastorius’ “Okonkolo & Trompa” is pure Cuban rumba bliss.
A three-song vocal section of the album begins with Terrie Odabi bringing a sense of gospel urgency to the Gil Scott Heron anthem “A Toast to the People,” which features Ortiz’s thoughtful conversation with the song’s co-writer, pianist Brian Jackson. The collection’s second Eddie Henderson gem (co-written with César Portillo de la Luz) is the wildly infectious adventure “Fusion/Noche Cubana,” a fiery, densely percussive romp featuring Christelle Durandy’s powerhouse lead voice. Among Ortiz’s many musical loves is gospel music, and his doubling on trumpet and flugelhorn creates sizzling horn section energy behind Odabi on “Ain’t No Need in Crying,” an uplifting tune originated by the Rance Allen Group in the 70s. The ensemble gets back to the bustling exotica on Wayne Shorter’s “Oriental Folk Song,” which ups the original version’s 4/4 into a robust Afro Cuban 6/8. Ortiz chose to wrap the set with the elegant, piano driven “My Lord and Master” (from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I”) to send listeners off with a beautiful feeling.
“At its best,” Ortiz says, “music makes people feel something. I wanted POINTS OF VIEW to feature important pieces that have been overlooked or forgotten, songs I felt could document the sounds and artists that were important to me in forming my voice while updating and bringing my personal style to them.” 
POINTS OF VIEW will be released June 17, 2022 and will be available everywhere. Distribution by A-Train Entertainment.
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