DownBeat Magazine Editors’ Pick- September 2013

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Imer-Album-Cover-resizedx250BY FRANK ALKYER
Imer Santiago,
Hidden Journey (Jazz Music City)

Nashville, the historical home of country & western music, has become increasingly known for its indie rock inhabitants, such as Jack White and The Black Keys. But don’t sleep on the city’s jazz scene, especially the circle of musicians led by saxophonist-composer Rahsaan Barber and his label, Jazz Music City Records. The latest offering from the label is trumpeter Imer Santiago’s Hidden Journey, a sensational debut from a fiery brass artist. At 36, Santiago has logged plenty of miles. His music took him from his native Ohio to New Orleans and Austin before he landed in Nashville in 2007. Hidden Journey has that sense of the road, where Santiago has picked up a little something from every stop along the way. “Fourthcoming,” the album’s second tune, has a sense of Chicago brawn, which is not surprising, considering that Santiago studied with Windy City power trumpeter Pharez Whitted. “What A Wonderful World” serves as a tip of the hat to the king of all trumpeters as well as Santiago’s time spent studying with Ellis Marsalis and Harold Battiste at the University of New Orleans (where he earned a master’s degree in jazz studies). The trumpeter also sound-checks his heroes in a very cool way. On “Flat 2176 (For Miles),” he delivers that famous muted trumpet tone with 52nd Street flair. On “Flat 2176 (Para Puente),” Santiago offers a Latin groove that would have made Tito Puente himself smile. Santiago surrounds himself with Nashville’s finest jazz players, including Barber on alto and tenor saxophone and flute, Bruce Dudley on piano, Jon Estes on acoustic bass and Josh Hunt on drums, plus a host of guests headed up by Giovanni Rodriguez. (Santiago, Barber and Rodriguez co-lead the Latin-fusion band El Movimiento.) But it’s Santiago’s easy style and powerful chops that make Hidden Journey so remarkable. He’s a trumpeter of great maturity, fully in command of his instrument and his music.

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