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CD Review: Victor Garcia, The Grind/The Groove

Written by Hrayr Attarian

Victor Garcia The Grind / The Groove

Victor Garcia – Trumpet

Tom Garling – Trombone

Greg Ward – Alto sax

Rocky Year – Tenor sax

Dan Trudell – Organ

Scott Hesse – Guitar

Charles Heath – Drums

On his exciting debut The Grind / The Groove, Chicago trumpeter Victor Garcia performs music that harks back to mid 20th-century hard bop era, albeit with a refreshingly modern touch. He and his ensemble deftly interpret the 10 originals with passion, effervescence, and virtuosity.

The energetic “Confined Within” is a hard-swinging tune with plenty of soul and intricately crafted refrains. Garcia infuses his captivating improvisation with Latin flavor while alto saxophonist Greg Ward expands on the main theme with intelligence and elegance.

The septet has an unusual lineup: the core rhythm section is a “traditional” organ trio and the frontline is made up of four horns. This gives the pieces a multi-textured and delightfully complex sound. The densely woven, cinematic “Portrait of Xavier” revolves around organist Dan Trudell’s simmering Hammond B3 phrases. It also features Garcia’s lyrical, soaring lines and drummer Charles Heath’s thunderous beats.

Garcia doesn’t monopolize the spotlight, allowing his sidemen ample room to express themselves. On the blues-drenched “Watcha Talkin’ Bout” for example, Trudell exchanges simmering, resonant chords with the band. Tenor saxophonist Rocky Yera takes his turn in the spotlight with a gutbucket, wailing solo over the band’s funky cadence.

The lilting and delicate “Izzy’s Lullaby” sways like a waltz. Guitarist Scott Hesse stretches out on a warm and contemplative spontaneous melody while trombonist Tom Garling contributes buttery tones and agile notes to his own extemporization.

Although this engaging and delightful album is far from a groundbreaking work, it is, nevertheless, highly enjoyable. The Grind / The Groove is a uniformly well-executed recording that highlights Garcia’s talents as a composer, instrumentalist, and a bandleader.

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