Acclaimed Drummer-Composer Gustavo Cortiñas Takes the Stage on Live in Chicago out February 9, 2024 via Desafío Candente Records

Desafío Candente is delighted to announce the February 9, 2024 release of Live in Chicago, the fiery release from celebrated jazz drummer, composer, and educator Gustavo Cortiñas. This live recording captures the essence of Cortiñas’ musical journey, offering a glimpse into the transformative experiences that have shaped his unique sound. Cortiñas is joined on this outing by his long-time sextet – a litany of Chicago-based jazz greats including trumpeter Drew Hansen, renowned saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, and educator Artie Black, trombonist Matthew Davis, bassist and composer Kitt Lyles, and pianist Joaquin Garcia.

“I believe that it is a rite of passage for any jazz artist to put out a live record”, remarks Cortiñas. Over the history of the artform, live jazz albums have acted as the vehicle to capture some of the rawest, truest and most organically beautiful moments in music. The mark of a truly great live release is that it moves past its initial intention as a mere document of a performance, and captures a musical moment that transcends time. Such is the case with Cortiñas’ Live in Chicago

This musical excursion reflects Cortiñas’ decade-long musical exploration with his sextet, and his compositional journey leading towards a sound that seamlessly marries the jazz idiom with the sounds of his upbringing in Mexico. The bandleader remarks, “The title superficially means a live performance in Chicago, but more than this, it celebrates over a decade of my being in Chicago and the growth and imprint that it has had on me and my music and hopefully vice versa. It is no accident that the amazing artwork for the album made by Sam Kirk is a fusion between Mexico City and the city of Chicago, representing that complicity and relationship between these two cities that mean so much to me and that I have come to call home.”

The concept of the album stems from Cortiñas’ desire to explore the magic of live performances and treat his original compositions as living standards. The live recordings were captured at Constellation in Chicago, IL, on the night of December 15th, 2022. They are raw and unedited, attempting to capture the spirit of the moment; a Snapshot, of a moment in time.

Cortiñas points to several standout tracks on the album, each with its own unique story and emotional resonance. “Hanaki,” a medium tempo blues from the first record Snapshot, showcases the group’s range, featuring a mesmerizing drum solo over a walking bass line. “Arete” from the second record opens with a killer trumpet intro by Drew Hansen, transitioning into a huapango-inspired 6/8 vibe with captivating solos. The composition is a contrafact of Cortiñas’ reharmonization of “Cielito Lindo,” paying homage to his Mexican roots.

Other notable tracks include “La balada del leon,” a touching ballad dedicated to Cortiñas’ father, “Ruta de regreso,” an African-inspired piece in 12/8, and “Wish I could be there now,” a 7/4 composition dedicated to a friend affected by violence in Mexico.

Cortiñas expresses deep appreciation for the musicians on the record, highlighting their unique qualities. Kitt’s supporting bass anchors the band, Joaquin’s technical prowess and mastery of textures elevate the music, Matt Davis brings fire and soul to the trombone, Artie’s saxophone defines the band’s sound, and Drew Hansen’s harmonic and melodic approach drives the horns.

Desafío Candente invites listeners to join the celebration of Live in Chicago and experience the magic of Gustavo Cortiñas and his ensemble. This love letter to the windy city cements Cortiñas as one of the preeminent jazz composers and drummers of our day. 


Disc 1:

  1. Overture
  2. Hanaki 
  3. Wish I Could Be There Now
  4. La Balada Del León
  5. Arete

Disc 2:

  1. Dialectics of Freedom
  2. Timing Is Everything
  3. The Man of Flesh and Bone
  4. La Ruta de Regreso a Guinea está en la Arcoiris 
  5. Pax Britannica 

Live Dates: 

Feb. 1 – Merrimans Playhouse, South Bend, IN
Feb. 7 – Jazz Showcase, Chicago IL
Feb. 8 – Zinco Jazz Club, Mexico City
Mar. 8 – Merrimans Playhouse, South Bend, IN
Mar. 9 – Blue Stem Jazz, Madison WI
Mar. 15-16 – Zinco Jazz Club, Mexico City

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