• Jonathan Widran

GREG DIAZ & THE ART OF IMAGINATION JAZZ ORCHESTRA, Begin The Agora


Though as their whimsical name indicates, this fiery and inventive contemporary big band is led by veteran saxophonist, composer, arranger and Jazz Voice professor Greg Diaz, the 17-piece group’s long awaited, live in the studio debut is, more deeply, a powder keg showcase for some of South Florida’s premiere jazz talents.

While Diaz’ bright, brash originals swing both sensuously/seductively (“Circadia”) and wildly/frenetically (“Frank Blank”), the most compelling tracks are the colorful, yes, re-imaginings, of Kevin Eubank’s simmering, then explosive “The Navigator” (featuring intensely joyous solos by guitarist Christian Davis, pianist Eero Turunen and Diaz himself) and, most prominently, a stirring romp through a mashup of Neville Brothers classics; the first part, “Brother John” brings the multi-talented Diaz center stage as a blues-rock vocalists, while the “2nd Line Strut” element includes feisty interaction between Ismael Vergara’s alto, Doug Michels’ snazzy trumpet and Matt Calderin’s booming parade of drums and percussion.

To paraphrase the title of a famous film song, Diaz and his cats introduce us to a world of pure jazz imagination!


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