Nobody can say that Ignacio Berroa rushes into things. A sought after drummer who has played with a whose who of Jazz luminaries, Berroa is just now releasing his first recording as leader. Codes, on Blue Note records is a project some twenty five years in the making. Co-produced by Berroa, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Ricardo (Eddy) Martinez, the eight -track album is a distinctive jazz-meets-Latin project, that mixes the "codes" of the two styles together. Why did he wait so long, " there were a lot of things going on and I felt that I had finally grown musically and spiritually where I had something to say. I did not want this to be just another Latin flavored recording, I wanted it to be different".
"Matrix", the opening track composed by Chick Corea is a straight ahead jazz number featuring Felipe Lamoglia on saxophone along with John Patitucci's sublime and elegant bass playing. This track also has some tight piano playing provided by Ed Simon. This is a very well rehearsed group and their playing is flawless, they compliment each other and build layer upon layer until there is a solid wall of sound.
"Joao Su Merced" is a number that has its roots in the more traditional Latin styling and is also a tribute to the Yoruba religion, something that has always played a large part in Berroa's development as a man and as a musician. This is also an original Berroa composition and one of the albums best numbers. In the middle of the song there is a calling out of names of those who have departed from this world as a tribute to them and their significance to Berroa's life . If you listen closely you will hear the name of Berroa's first and most famous employer Dizzy Gillespie being called out among the many. The rest of the number is again a display of Jazz at its best. There is the intricate weaving of instruments and seemingly effortless give and take that is the result of years of not only playing together but growing as musicians.
There is a gentle swing to "La Comparsa" and it is driven along by Berroa's inspired and original playing and accented by both the saxophone of Felipe Lamoglia and the piano of Gonzalo Rubalcaba. "Partido Alto" is one of the more soulful numbers on the recording , there is a dreamy like take on the song and along with "Inutil Paissagem (Useless Landscapes) by Antonio Carlos Jobim that closes the album , provide an introspective side to Berroa's playing.
"Woody 'n' You by mentor Dizzy Gillespie is a fast paced jazz tune that shows off the expert playing of Berroa and how integral his drumming is to the beat of a number. His accents and counterpoints expand the songs horizon to dizzying levels. More than twenty five years in the making Codes is a Latin jazz lover, well a fine music lovers dream come true and more than worth the wait.