Label/Year: Culture Shock Music, 2017
Lineup - Alex Wintz: guitar; Lucas Pino: tenor saxophone; Victor Gould: piano; Ben Williams: bass; Jimmy MacBride: drums.
Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Alex Wintz is an emergent young guitarist whose musical approach has been requested for ambitious projects led by Etienne Charles, Nick Finzer, Ben Williams, and Lucas Pino. With them, Wintz has developed a solid maturity that is now passed to Life Cycle, his debut album as a leader, to be released soon on Culture Shock Music.
The album consists of a set of nine tunes, seven originals and two jazz standards, outfitted with diverse colors and played in different band formats (trio, quartet, and quintet). The lineup includes Lucas Pino on tenor saxophone, Victor Gould on piano, Ben Williams on bass, and Jimmy MacBride on drums.
The opening tune, “Action-Reaction”, is an exciting ride to the 60’s and to the hard-bop guitar sounds of jazz giant Grant Green. The pulsing chord changes emanated from Gould’s piano are attached to the magnetic swinging groove provided by Williams and MacBride in order to underpin Wintz’s clear-toned phrasing and the improvisations that follow it. This lively atmosphere continued on the jazz standard “Sweet and Lovely”, a Wes Montgomery-ish bop exploration played in trio and carrying a strong Latin touch. It shows the extroverted musicality of the bandleader through a clever combination of well-delineated melodic ideas and compliant harmonic movements. The tune also features a brief bass solo by Williams, loaded by bountiful lyricism.
Also delivered in trio, we have “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance”, a ballad standard, “The Low Road”, a soothing country-like song that also brings cool bluesy tones and energizing vibes, and “Locust Ave”, which adopts a nice melody over a consistent textural amalgam of pop/rock and modern jazz.
The blues factor is heavily intensified in “Shared Stories”, a ternary-form tune where the guitar trio was expanded into a quartet with the addition of Gould’s piano. In opposition, “Life Cycle” and “Taking Sides” are two straightforward post-bop fantasies explored in quintet. Despite flowing at different tempos, they have pretty much identical structure and arrangements, including MacBride’s percussive exteriorization over a final vamp. The title track is boosted not only by Pino, who motivically quotes “Fascinating Rhythm” in his improvisation, but also by Wintz’s racing motions and Gould’s rich and more breathable melodic sense.
Delivered at a propulsive 3/4, “Seeing Distance” bestows a jubilant nature that calls up the famous quintet led by Dave Holland. After the solo guitar intro, it relies on an unbreakable chain of well-built harmonic movements, pompously enriched with clever interactions and improvisations atop.
Boasting a thorough command of the instrument and mature compositional skills, Alex Wintz dynamically transfers elements from the past into the modern jazz spectrum with a glitzy determination.
03 – Life Cycle ► 05 – Seeing Distance ► 06 – The Low Road