Trumpeter Gabriel Alegria has all but issued a mission statement to establish and cultivate a Peruvian/jazz style. Unlike most styles of Latin music, like montuno-based Afro-Cuban and bossa nova, Peruvian music does not stem from the clave rhythm, but instead from 12/8 (or 6/8, depending on who is your resident self-proclaimed expert). In short, it’s a three-against-four deal. The opening section of Chick Corea’s “Litha” provides an easy American reference.
Alegria’s group has the typical trumpet/saxophone frontline, along with guitar, bass, drums, and auxiliary percussion. There is a crisp lightness to the band which is surprising, given the internal reliance on percussion. Cuidad De Los Reyes‘ tunes—six by Alegria, six by saxophonist Laura Andrea Leguia and one by Henry Mancini—are of the post-Wayne Shorter persuasion, which means that there is both openness and harmonic specificity to the writing. Alegria definitely likes texture in his group, but his restraint keeps things from turning noisy. When the guitar goes fuzz-toned, it doesn’t reek of “here’s the electric moment.” For the record, Yuri Juarez is doing some heavy lifting throughout the disc on both electric and nylon string guitar.
The bulk of the soloing is by Alegria and Leguia, and each is up to the job. Alegria has a gorgeous, clear sound, and his rhythms are both driving and unobvious, not unlike Lee Morgan. He’s also got a decent arsenal of old-style effects, including a plunger mute growl that would have impressed Cootie Williams. Leguia is heard on both soprano and tenor saxophones, both to advantage. Her tone on each is soft but not limp, and her lines hold together admirably. Her lines are directed but never obvious. She is a soloist whose attraction is in hearing where she’ll end up.
Read more: AllAboutJazz