Tony Perez may not be as famous as his Baseball Hall of Famer namesake yet, but give the 28 year old Cuban pianist a bit of time and he may eclipse the former star of the Big Red Machine yet.
A product of Cuba's National School of Arts, Perez was hand-picked by Chucho Valdes to take the reigns of Irakere, the legendary Cuban band that has produced stars like Valdes, Arturo Sandoval and Paquito d'Rivera. Any pianist that can count Chucho Valdes among his fans can count on a promising future. Tony Perez has that, and he's proving it with brilliant work in the present.
Full Force Jazz is just such proof. Perez displays a combination of spectacular technical facility on his instrument and an impressive maturity in his musical judgements, both in his arrangements and his approach to his solos. He's also the composer of 7 of the album's 11 tracks, and his skills as a writer are no less impressive. There's been a resurgence of interest in Cuban music in recent years, and there's been a lot of Cuban music crossing my desk this year. Simply put, this is the best album by a Cuban artist that I've heard in 2001.
Valdez leads an impressive octet through a set that alternately sets the standard for and breaks the mold of Latin jazz. In the process, he demonstrates that even a typically Cuban arrangement of a song doesn't have to settle for being stereotypical. Given enough talent, the typical can beexemplary, and Perez & co. have more than enough talent to produce an exemplary album.
A tremendous demonstration of proficiency, innovation and passion is in store for those who hear this recording, and you should count yourself among that number as soon as possible.