REVIEW: Chris Cortez’s “Aunt Nasty”

Photobucket When you are nasty, you have to show your freak flag and raise it why, and that’s what Chris Cortez attempts to do on his latest album, Aunt Nasty (Blue Bamboo Music).

Cortez is a brilliant guitarist, and also produced, engineered, and did the graphics for the CD version of the album. If you’re an artist and have not only a full grip of what you want to do, but also execute it, you’re impressive in my book. His guitar style utilizes the bass in jazz, blues, rock/rock’n’roll, and whatever he feels like playing at any given time, and a lot of times that’s what it’s about: feel. His versions of The Beatles‘ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which goes into a jazzy/laid back vibe, would have been perfect if it was released on ECM, and some listeners might be taken back to the glory days of ECM after hearing Andrew Lienhard‘s keyboard world. There are Latin influences in it too, and it just sounds perfect, I found myself wanting to hear it over and over. “The Man With No Arms” is a damn good performance too, and in fact most of the songs are. There are 12 tracks on this, with four of them being brief songs, most of them just under a minute. A few of these, such as “When You Wish Upon A Star” and “”It’s A Small World”, would have been nice if he explored the mood another minute or so, it left me hungry for more. I could have done without the reggae vibe of his cover of Jimi Hendrix Experience‘s “Fire”, although his guitar work just shines throughout.

Which leads to perhaps the inevitable question: is this album really nasty? To paraphrase the 2 Live Crew, it’s as nasty as he wants to be. He doesn’t go overboard or embellish beyond his boundaries, but there’s a sense of reserve where I wish he would have fallen over the edge to get deeper into his soul. Aunt Nasty works as is, and I’d like to think the auntie would get much nastier in a live setting.

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