Santiago Bosch ‘Galactic Warrior’ CD (Self-released) 4/5

Santiago Bosch releases his sophomore album ‘Galactic Warrior’ which serves as a marked return to the forefront for the multi-faceted pianist.

Following eight years since Bosch’s well-received debut release ‘Guaro Report’, the native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, who boasts the distinction of being a Berklee graduate and son of saxophonist Jaime Bosch, has become a live music staple having performed at festivals the world over including Puerto Rico’s Music Conservatory Jazz Festival, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, Colombia’s Barranquilla Jazz Festival, as well as hosting a residency at New York City’s 55 Bar with guitarist Tim Miller.

Even without being told directly, the fact that thematically Bosch has strived to emulate the soundtrack to a video game would in complete honesty leap out at you – with song titles like ‘Level 8’, ‘Main Menu’ and ‘Finding Your Way Out’, and compositions which, at times, emulate the fervent and desperate pace of a hero committed to the fulfilment of his quest like those enshrined within an early-1990’s Sega Mega Drive classic like Shinobi or Golden Axe. But the fact that this aesthetic is still presented as a contemporary jazz record is, well, intriguing to say the absolute least.

Joining Santiago Bosch on his own quest are an accomplished array of musicians including the aforementioned Tim Miller, saxophonists Tucker Antell (Myele Manzanza, Saucy Lady) and George Garzone (Magnus Bakken, Joe Lovano), electric bassist Dany Anka (the only returning member of Bosch’s ‘Guaro Report’ debut), drummer Juan Ale Saenz (Adrián Escamilla Quartet), trumpeter Darren Barrett (Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spalding), with laouto by Vasilis Kostas (Hago) and upright bass by Jared Henderson, which leaves Bosch the duties of handling the Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, acoustic piano and all production.

The real strength and charm in ‘Galactic Warrior’ comes from the versatility of Bosch’s compositions – the skill that Bosch demonstrates as he interweaves incredibly subtle themes of electronica into the arrangements is near masterful. And while, yes, the idea of this album being presented as the soundtrack to a video game adds a genuinely exciting dimension to the whole package, there are also songs that listeners will connect with on entirely different dimensions – like the jazz-funk of ‘Perspectives’ and ‘Transition’, or the introspective nature of ‘Questions’. ‘Persecution’ is another notable mention as, over the course of nearly seven minutes, this overwhelming cacophony of sounds transports you through this surreal cosmic nightmare that you ultimately realise is best appreciated when you just give yourself over to it.

Santiago Bosch has delivered an inspired project with ‘Galactic Warrior’ and hopefully one that will receive a follow-up in fewer than another eight years.

Imran Mirza