Relocating to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Chris Cortez not only went a new direction geographically but also musically. His new album titled Awakenings is a culmination of original, instrumental Latin jazz/fusion songs.
Awakings contains no vocals, which is a departure from his two previous albums; Cortez lets his guitar speak volumes. What really stand out are his original compositions such as "Palmettos". Even though it is a guitar workout coming in at just under six minutes with no accompiament it does not lag. Cortez builds on his original chords and creates a beautiful piece.
"The Rose of Shalamar" is Latin. Cortez lets his Houston band mates play this one. One of strengths of a leader is the ability to allow his bandmates to come to forefront and keep the spotlight to them just because their name is on the CD cover and that’s what Cortez does not only here but throughout the ten song album.
Lastly the song "Awakenings". Even though it is the sixth song on the album it almost could be the coda. Cortez brings excellent phrasing and quite possibly the images of moving from Katarina to the new beginnings in Houston. Chris Cortez and band have an excellent Latin/fusion guitar driven album. The production value is outstanding as it is the obvious wanting of being able to hear everyone. Cortez does an excellent job of leading without necessarily leading it all. The album is titled Awakenings and given the situation it was recorded, it is an awakening indeed.