From the very opening notes of Colombia native Juan García-Herreros’s sophomore effort—an improvised solo piece entitled “A Step Towards Vision”— you can tell you’re in for something special. The Art of Contrabass Guitar isn’t just an intended hat tip to Anthony Jackson; it’s a true “statement album” that shows how Berklee standout and current New Yorker García-Herreros (who sometimes goes by the moniker “Snow Owl”) has firmly landed as both a dead serious 6-string bassist and modern jazz composer. Angular, complex melodies and rich, hornladen arrangements dart in between deep, authentic Latin grooves for the 21st century on “Mrs. Jones Goes to School,” and the conga-driven funk of “Blues for Krampus” has enough form and rhythmic density to hold the most discriminating listener’s attention (his killer octavedrenched solo is icing on the cake). In the end it’s García-Herreros’s undeniable creative vision—the sum total of his grooving, comping, composing, soloing, and life experience—that make this disc a musthave for anyone who wants to know where Latin jazz is headed when led from the bottom up.
Evan Marien: Between Worlds [Art of Life]
Youth will be served, the old saying goes, and 23- year-old Berklee graduate Evan Marien’s selfproduced solo debut Between Worlds serves notice that there’s a new bass monster in town. Armed with ridiculously fluid fingerstyle chops and a strong sense of groove, Marien applies a smooth, round, bridgepickup tone that owes plenty to Jaco Pastorius and Matt Garrison, but the dark, punchy goodness evokes Gary Willis and Jimmy Johnson just as strongly (especially on the fusion workouts “Fragment” and “Crossing Streets”). As the title suggests, his muso tendencies are mixed with a healthy dose of techno experimentation. “Lao’s Tao” and “Primal Virtue” are loaded with textured effects, far-eastern motifs, and meaty ring-modulator tones, and “Skitzo” features several keyboard-and-drum loops and a crazed, doubled bass melody, along with the requisite soaring improv. The solo piece “Eternals and Apathetics” is an unpredictable virtuoso delight. Compositi