Benito Gonzalez’s Latest LP Succeeds Despite Its Overall, Run Time, Those Of Its Songs

Courtesy: Rainy Day Records

Jazz pianist Benito Gonzalez is scheduled to release his latest album Friday.  The 10-song record, Sing to the World,stands out among its peers this year.  That is due in part to its general approach, which will be discussed shortly.  While the overall approach taken in this record makes for its own engagement and entertainment, the album’s songs prove to be a slight detriment to the record’s presentation.  This will be addressed a little later.  The album’s liner notes round out its most important elements, and they do so in a positive way, too.  They will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Sing to the World a unique record that audiences will agree deserves to be heard at least once.

Benito Gonzalez’s forthcoming album Sing to the World is a unique addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.  That is proven in large part through its approach.  According to information provided about the album, Gonzalez’s intent in crafting this record was to assemble a series of songs that “explore the concept of freedom.”  Few if any jazz artists past or present have taken to crafting a concept album.  That is more typically reserved for the realms of progressive rock and metal.  So for Gonzalez to take that chance and go the concept route here is brave to say the least.  Though, songs, such as ‘Sounds of Freedom,’ ‘Visionary,’ and the album’s title track do well to help translate the album’s concept.  ‘Visionary,’ with its soft, reflective opening and more energetic body, does well to conjure thoughts of someone who perhaps establishes the thoughts of freedom and how to achieve freedom.  ‘Sounds of Freedom’ meanwhile utilizes a high, but controlled energy to conjure thoughts of cars, trains, and just people in general going about, enjoying life.  Those are the sounds of freedom because they are the sounds of people going about their lives happily without the thoughts of totalitarian or even fascist or communist rule.  That is obvious through the use of the brushes on the snare, and the horns as well as the full use of the piano.  The album’s title track does just as well to live up to its title what with the energy exhibited throughout.  The arrangement comes across as a sort of free jazz style composition but still exudes the happiness that comes with spreading joy to the world about freedom.  Keeping that in mind and how the album’s other songs work to work within the confines of the album’s overarching theme, they and that overall approach form a strong foundation for the album. 

For all that Gonzalez’s approach does to make his new album worth hearing the record’s body detracts from its presentation to a point.  Speaking more specifically the album’s length is what detracts from its appeal.  The shortest of the record’s 10 total songs clocks in at just under four minutes.  From there, the songs’ run times increase all the way up to 10 minutes, 32 seconds.  In other words, this album’s songs are not meant for those with short attention spans.  Audiences will have to actively listen to each song to really appreciate how each work encapsulates the album’s overall theme of exploring and celebrating freedom.  Given, there are those audiences will have no problem with that, but more casual audiences might find it more difficult to remain engaged.  To that end, the songs’ lengths and by connection the album’s overall length, might keep some audiences from giving this album a chance. 

While Sing to the World’s run time and those of its songs are a slight detriment to its presentation, that overall issue is not enough to make the album a failure.  The record’s liner notes work with the songs to add more interest to its presentation.  That is even considering the extremely small font that is used.  Written by Downbeat contributing writer Dan Ouellette, the liner notes addresses the musicians who were brought on board to work with Gonzalez on his new record.  Additionally, the notes point out that two of the songs featured in this album are compositions that were previously “unrecorded by their composers: Roy Hargrove and Jeff “Tain” Watts.  So what audiences essentially get, considering that, is eight originals from Gonzalez and company and two presentations from other composers.  Ouellette offers audience a brief but concise story on each song as part of his notes to add to the interest in the songs and liner notes.  Along with those songs, Oulette also offers some background on some of the album’s other songs, leading to even more interest.  All things considered here, the liner notes featured with the album does its own share to make the album interesting.  That is when read.  Again, the information is printed in such small type font that even those with glasses will find the notes tough to read.  Even despite that, the liner notes are still helpful in their own way.  Between the background offered through the liner notes and the songs that make up the body of this unique “concept record,” audiences have plenty of reason to check out this album at least once. 

Benito Gonzalez’s new album, Sing to the World is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.  That is due in part to the overall approach taken to the album.  That approach is a unique “concept” centered on the topic of freedom.  The concept aside, the fact that a jazz artist would go the concept route is itself interesting.  While the songs that make up the body of the record and its approach are interesting, their run times are likely to prove somewhat problematic because they are so long.  With the longest of the album’s songs clocking in at almost 11 minutes, the songs force listeners to actively listen to the album, rather than passively.  This will discourage some audiences from listening to the album.  It is not enough to make the album a failure though.  The liner notes featured in the record’s packaging work with the songs themselves to established even more engagement and entertainment.  That is because of the background that they offer.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album worth hearing at least once. Sing to the World is scheduled for release Friday through Rainy Day Records.  More information on Sing to the World is available along with all of Beinto Gonzalez’s latest news at:




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