Somewhere, halfway between Mario Bauzá and Dizzy Gillespie, lies the genesis of a phenomenon called "Latin jazz,” a marvelous hybrid often discredited by jazz purists and misguided Latin music aficionados alike. The archetypical detractor fails to comprehend what has been and still is at the heart of Latin jazz; a bona fide genre, that is not about dissonant improvisations on altered scales and chord substitutions like those of Bebop, but rather a smart melding of diverse melodic and rhythmic elements with progressive jazz harmonic patterns. When Latin jazz is done without any pretentiousness, it is harmonically and melodically unassuming and, above all, digestible to the untrained ear regardless of what elements are incorporated into the mix. Pedro Bermúdez’ No Limits is that type of a production.
Bermúdez is a humble, young Puerto Rican pianist, composer and educator born in Santurce, who began his musical studies at age 10 and by 14, was already performing professionally. While in Puerto Rico, he played and toured with the Willie Rosario Orchestra for four years, Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sound for two and Batacumbele for an additional two years. Currently, Bermúdez is performing in New York City's music scene, busy arranging, composing and recording with a bevy of popular Latin and jazz artists as well as the Berklee College of Music ensembles.
His fresh and unpretentious approach to music brings Latin jazz, with all of its newfound influences and modern tendencies, back to where it belongs, the common people palate. Here, Bermúdez offers a well-rounded cross between traditional Afro Cuban and Caribbean rhythms, Brazilian music, Funk and other world influences in an elegant and esculent fashion. The quality of the compositions, the sophistication of the arrangements and the caliber of the participating musicians lends itself to an outstanding premier production.
Bermudez has managed to put together a tight group of accomplished musicians who can play it all and, while at it, give any avant-gardist, past or present a run for their money. Schooled on Machito, Puente and Tjader, as well as Jobim, Piazzolla, Parker and Davis, these musicians understand the diverse elements at hand and impart the proper feel to their executions without taking it beyond the ability for the untrained ear to enjoy.
In No Limits, Bermudez is relaxed and ensconces himself into a personal groove, playing his compositions for his own enjoyment as well as that of new and old, novices and connoisseurs alike. It is a logical climax to a years-long process, highlighting the fact that Pedro Bermúdez – with his diversely influenced musical background, engaging approach to melody and clear comprehension of diverse harmonic and rhythmic patterns — is a young talented pianist on the rise who knows where he wants to take his music.
Finally, No Limits is less a typical Latin jazz experience than it is a measured tournée of Afro Caribbean, Latin American, jazz and Brazilian elements, smartly blended together and delivered in the same fashion by highly accomplished artists from a variety of genres. Yet, the common thread that holds everything together is Pedro Bermúdez’ refined musicianship and cool piano playing.
Albums Notes by: Gabe Romero