Previously known as a Smooth Jazz
performer, guitarist Chris Cortez
moved into the realm of traditional and mainstream jazz with his last album Hold It Right There
. The Louisiana musician continues in the same vein with his newest release Mum Is The Word
The earlier CD contained a flock of great tunes penned by Fats Waller, Duke Jordan, Jon Hendricks and George Shearing. Cortez now ventures a little further, throwing in five of his own compositions and seven standards by Hoagy Carmichael, Luiz Bonfa, Memphis Slim and others. Happily, his previous collaborators, John Wooton, Jeff Mills, Larry Panella and Sam Bruton return on the new release.
The Cortez CD starts off with the guitarist’s original My Way Is Better
and just continues to climb. Cortez has a unique and jazzy vocal style that lends itself perfectly to the songs on the album.
The guitarist plays both acoustic and electric instruments over a dubbed acoustic rhythm track. Cortez is a superb player and the new album goes a long way to highlight his instrumental talents. The fine sidemen really support Chris’ swinging style. Their unusual treatment of Hoagy’s Georgia On My Mind
is well worth a listen. Humphrey Davis Jr. plays great solos on Everyday I Have The Blues
and the title tune Mum Is the Word
. The core unit of Sam Bruton, Jeff Mills, Edwin Livingston and John Wooton deserves special mention for their unwavering quality.
This writer appreciates Cortez’ great sense of humor. His witty composition Rhythm Method Blues
is a tongue-in-cheek gem. I also loved the great clarinet solo on Lazy River
but the player is not identified and I’ll guess at Larry Panella.
Sound samples are available at the Chris Cortez website. This is very nice jazz!