Gabriel Vicéns ‘The Way We Are Created’ CD (Inner Circle Music) 4/5

With its organic blend of contemporary jazz and propulsive, percussive, melodic rhythms, “The way we are created” is the third album from New York City-based guitarist Gabriel Vicéns. This engaging release becomes a part of the Inner Circle Music canon, a label established by influential saxophonist Greg Osby. Also behind the release of this album is the Puerto Rican non-profit organisation 71 Associates, which was created by Jochi Dávila to help experimental musicians.

Joining composer/guitarist Vicéns on this fine set of tunes are fellow New Yorkers Roman Filiú on alto sax, Glenn Zaleski on piano, Rick Rosato on bass, E.J. Strickland on drums and Victor Pablo on percussion. Following on from the guitarist’s previous albums “Point In Time” and “Days”, it is clear that Vicéns has further developed his compositional ideas and is now blossoming with his own clearly articulated style, forging his own musical identity. There’s no doubt that having such accomplished musicians around him have helped this progression, with a provocative sense of freedom emanating from the band’s combination of jazzy, Afro-Caribbean and Puerto Rican styles.

The music performed here has a refreshing and expansive feel to it, with all of the band members reflecting a natural ease of expressiveness. Individual solos add depth to the overall group dynamic, bringing the best out of the composer’s thematic and melodic ideas. There’s a subtlety to Vicéns’ playing that I really like. The title track is a prime example, with the guitarist leading his band and allowing the tune to develop with a graceful, keen edge, allowing the music to breathe with unhurried melody and harmony. The combination of multi-faceted World rhythms, as on “The Mystery Of S.T” blend wonderfully, with the permissive elements elevating its naturally fiery glow. Tunes such as “Retoro”, “Definite Purpose” and “To The Unknown” leap out with a fervent effervescence, also highlighting the importance of the rhythm section to the music being performed. Lively and bold ideas are brought to life by some excellent soloing on “A City of Many Mysteries”, “It Doesn’t Matter” and “The Upcoming”, with an intelligent, seemingly effortless coming together of complex jazz and folkloric Puerto Rican styles. The classy “Caribeno Pensador” and the atmospheric Fuera de mi Cuervo” offer up something different, not only a change in pace but also in a sense of experimentation, adding a surprisingly esoteric element into the mix.

“The way we are created” is an imaginative and inventive album from Gabriel Vicéns. It’s a feel-good recording, passionate and very likeable. Blessed with strong, original compositions and a high level of performance, its own unique flavour makes it a very enjoyable listen.

Mike Gates