This was originally posted on 1st September 2010. See the article here.
Jazz musician Bill Ortiz’ list of credentials is an impressive read; Destiny’s Child, Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock, Lauryn Hill, Quincy Jones and Beyonce all make an appearance. With stars of this level of aptitude vying for his talents you’d be forgiven for displaying a sense of dubiety as to whether or not his solo efforts will be up to scratch.
Taken from the recently released ‘From Where I Stand’, ‘Ease My Mind’ is a soulful slice of R&B the showcases precisely why he is held in such high regard by his contemporaries.
From the churning introduction you are aware that you’re never going to wander too far from a comfortable listening experience, but it is within the intricacies of the composition that you will discover the real gold.
The main momentum of the groove is kept in order by a chugging wah-wah guitar and solid percussive backbeat; a perpetual spine from which the other musicians can freely explore the melodic depths of their instruments. The off-centre and oft dissonant chord stabs provided by the keys enable Bill’s signature trumpet to meander across the musical landscape, never quite coming to the fore with a vital motif or progression, but constantly painting colour and vibrancy into the arrangement.
The chromatic, frog-leaping bebop bass line acts as a dynamic counterpoint to the vocals, which remain as laidback and chilled as the musical bed upon which they rest.
There are times when the melodic lines seem a trifle cluttered, but the relative sparseness of the parts ensures that there is always room for the music to breathe. At the end the trumpet is finally given a chance to shine and the Ortiz stamp is at last plastered on the track.
‘Ease My Mind’ isn’t a classic ‘single’ as such; there are no major hooks to speak of, either musically or lyrically. It seems more of a mood piece, intent on evoking a sense of wistful desire, which it certainly succeeds in doing.
Bill can be found touring with Santana in Europe and the UK in the summer of 2010, and you can hear more of his work at www.myspace.com/billortizmusic