Culture Watch: Adam Cruz's 'Milestone' CD
An in-demand percussionist who over a 20-year career has backed Chick Corea and guitarist Charlie Hunter in addition to his ongoing stint backing recent Grammy nominee Danilo Perez, Cruz has finally released his first album as a bandleader. Joined by an impressive roster of players that includes saxophonists Chris Potter, Steve Wilson and Miguel Zenón, "Milestone" is a rollicking and rewarding record that proves sometimes good things are worth the wait.
Assembled by Cruz after years of tinkering, the album offers enough room for ensemble playing that it seldom feels like anything that could be called a "drummer's record." Over long, serpentinte compositions, its powerful horn section is given plenty of space to embark on free-wheeling excursions such as on "Secret Life" and "The Gadfly," which features a bracing turn on soprano saxophone by Wilson. Elsewhere guitarist Steve Cardenas' rounded tone spikes the Latin-inflected "Emjé," while Cruz's nimble drum patterns form a restless but assertive foundation for the imaginative "Magic Ladder." With luck, we won't have to wait as long for Cruz's next move.
-- Chris Barton