Fusion lives. The adage says every fifty years or so, trends reappear. There have been plenty of very good recent fusion albums from the likes of Hudson, Shijin, Gerry Gibbs, The Funky Knuckles and many, many others. What is striking about the new release from keyboard ace Santiago Bosch, among other things, is the way the contemporary sound fits well with classic fusion. This writer had this on the player adjacent to Forever with Corea, Clarke, and White and the two flowed together seamlessly. So, let’s introduce Santiago Bosch – who plays Fender Rhodes, synths, and acoustic piano on this effort, supported by a core quartet of Tucker Antell on tenor, Dany Anka on electric bass, and Juan Ale Saenz on drums. Guests are Tim Miller on electric guitar (two tracks), George Garzone on tenor (two tracks) and Darren Barrett on trumpet for one. Vasiliis Kostas plays lauto on the final tracks as does Jared Henderson on upright bass for that one and its predecessor.
Bosch hails from Venezuela, introduced to jazz by his father, saxophonist Jamie Bosch. Each of these nine tracks tells the tale of his upbringing beginning his foray into performance at age 9. Like many, he began with classical instruction but quickly moved into jazz, fusion, and improvised music. He graduated summa cum laude from Berklee in 2017. This is his first release in eight years.
The disc begins with “Perspectives,” a fiery tune featuring dialogue between Bosch and Antell, setting the stage for modern-day fusion that follows. “Living in the Past,” in fact nods to the fusion pioneers. Tim Miller’s guitar arpeggiations tumble over Bosch’s harmonic chords, echoing the sounds of Allan Holdsworth. Santiago’s Rhodes channels the sound of Chick Corea’s ‘70s and ‘90s fusion. “Transition” brings us back to modern-day fusion with Darren Barrett, one of our strongest contemporary players, sparkles on trumpet while Bosch supports with moody synthesizer.
The title track captures the energy of the entire project, with Miller aboard again as the band explores different rhythms and harmonics while maintaining a complex 5/4 piano ostinado. “Main Menu” brings the intensity down a few levels as Bosch duets on Rhodes and synth with Saenz on drums. Another highlight is the closer, “Why” as Bosch plays acoustic pinao with Henderson on upright bass. It’s similar in some ways to Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” in its quiet intensity and the tenor solo from Garzone is superb.
Bosch is one of jazz’s new contemporary voices. You can also hear him on the recent release from Darren Barrett, Mr. Steiner. Galactic Warrior should garner Bosch some well-deserved attention.