By Don Heckman
Jazz of every stripe, from New Orleans to Smooth, with all stops in between, has always been America’s gift to the world. Honored in countries reaching from Asia to Europe, South America, Africa and beyond, it has also stimulated a flow of unique creativity from musicians in every part of the globe. Players who have blended the full aspects of their native music with the basic essence of jazz.
The results have been been creatively productive and immensely entertaining. No one’s done it better than guitarist Leonardo Amuedo. Here’s a fascinating display of his remarkable skills.
His new album, appropriately titled Guitar Stories, is an impressive display of what can happen when a gifted, virtuosic artist applies his deep rooted skills to a broad range of jazz and jazz-oriented genres.
The first thing one notices in every track is Amuedo’s versatility. Playing a program of works that embrace selections ranging across bebop,mainstream jazz, contemporary fusion, subtle rhythms from Brazil and across South America, Afro-Cuban grooves, the blues and beyond, he plays each style and genre with stunning authenticity. A true international artist.
Amuedo’s skills began to express themselves at such an early age that he is best described as a true prodigy. Born in Uruguay in 1967, he was playing the guitar when he was less than five years old, and a serious guitarist by the time he was in his teens. He lived and worked in the Netherlands in the nineties and has lived in Rio De Janweiro recently while playing with Ivan Lins. Amuedo has also been a much valued member of the Chris Botti Band, touring the world, since 2012`. He currently plans to move to the U.S. soon.
Every track in this mesmerizing collection of songs is a delight to hear. But Amuedo’s program is so engaging that it’s best heard without a break. And I urge listeners to experience the full extent of its musical magic.