Aruan Ortiz & the Orbiting Quartet | Beverly Arts Center | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.

Aruan Ortiz & the Orbiting Quartet 

When: Fri., Aug. 29, 8 p.m. 2014
Price: $20, $18 for members
In 2008 pianist Aruan Ortiz, a Cuban native of Haitian descent, settled in New York City, where he’s worked in bands led by the likes of saxophonist Antoine Roney and clarinetist Don Byron, rapidly establishing himself as a passionately curious polymath. One of the most impressive pianists to emerge in the past decade, Ortiz has clearly benefited from Cuba’s rigorous music-education system: though he’s a master of Afro-Cuban styles, they seem like a minor part of his arsenal thanks to his deft facility in classical and jazz. The compositions on the 2012 album Santiarican Blues Suite (Sunnyside), which he wrote for a ballet, filter Cuban and Haitian folkloric music through a contemporary-classical lens, and they stand up just fine with no dancers in sight. Ortiz is also an explosive improviser, which he makes more clear on two other recent albums: last year’s Banned in London (Whirlwind) and 2012’s Orbiting (Fresh Sound New Talent). On the former, Ortiz and bassist Michael Janisch share leadership of a fiery, limber postbop quintet, and the pianist’s pin-drop dynamics and bob-and-weave rhythms recall Herbie Hancock’s work in the classic Miles Davis quintet as well as Danilo Perez’s playing in Wayne Shorter’s current quartet. On the latter, Ortiz fronts the Orbiting Quartet, a wide-open band that best represents the full range of his influences and interests. He locks in with guitarist David Gilmore, and they slash, tangle, pull apart, and fuse together; the arrangements allow them to incorporate dissonant harmonies and meterless playing, whether they’re navigating the pianist’s own lurching themes or material by Ornette Coleman, Charlie Parker, and Hermeto Pascoal. The version of the Orbiting Quartet that will appear tonight includes Ortiz and bassist Rashaan Carter from the album; guitarist Rez Abbasi fills in for Gilmore, and drummer Gerald Cleaver takes over for Eric McPherson. —Peter Margasak



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