Navi-Jazz is an initiative of the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (IPRAC), which seeks to promote one of the most important elements of Puerto Rican cultural life – particularly of Puerto Ricans in the Diaspora: the syncretism of the Puerto Rican and African American musical expressions. This year marks the 4th annual Navi-Jazz and will feature The John Benitez Group. (Southwest Airline is the Official Airline of the 4th Annual Navi-Jazz Concert.)
Below is an article written by Downbeat Magazine on The John Benitez Group.
John Benitez continues his rise as one of today’s top ranking bassists, specializing in Latin music with his enthralling sophomore disc, Purpose. With a program of all originals, mostly composed by the leader, Purpose harkens back to the jazz-fusion of the late ’70s and early ’80s with a Nuyorican twist. That sonic quality comes strong by the way of Benitez’s electric bass tumbao figures, Tom Guarna’s razor sharp guitar lines and Francis Benitez Martinez’s crisp drumming. And with the emphasis on tricky melodies and rhythms (songs like the title track, “Seed” and “Bomba Liricia”), the musicians recall the best of Steps Ahead and The Yellowjackets. Some of the best moments occur on the enchanting “Pureza,” a song marked by languid passages from Guarna and alto saxophonist Will Vinson and topped off with a stunning a cappella acoustic bass solo from Benitez. The suspenseful “Inspiracion” begins with Benitez singing a haunting, wordless melody atop of Manual Valera’s rippling piano accompaniment and Guarna’s evocative guitar chords before the song launches into cumbia groove, driven by Benitez’s forceful bass lines.
-John Murph, “Downbeat” • For more information on John Benitez visit his website at: www.johnbenitez.com
The John Benitez Group. Date: Friday, December 7, 2012 • Venue: 1147 N. Western Ave. • Price: $15.00 • Time 7pm (Sponsors: Southwest Airlines, Verizon & Gozamos)