The Squid's Ear Magazine

Ortiz, Aruan Trio (w/ Brad Jones / John Betsch) : Serranias (Sketchbook For Piano Trio) (Intakt)

Celebrating 20 years since his recording debut as a leader and his own 50th birthday, Cuban-born, New York-based pianist Aruán Ortiz presents his 6th album on Intakt in a trio with bassist Brad Jones and drummer John Betsch, opening with a Gillespie/Parker number then taking us on a spectacular journey through contemporary jazz influenced by Afro-Cuban/Haitian traditions.

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product information:

UPC: 7640120193928

Label: Intakt
Catalog ID: ITK392.2
Squidco Product Code: 33081

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels w/ booklet
Recorded at Hardstudios, in Winterthur, Switzerland, on September 18th and 19th, 2022, by Michael Brandli.


Aruan Ortiz-piano

Brad Jones-bass

John Betsch-drums

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Aruán Ortiz, acclaimed as a piano cubist, excellent jazz improviser and wayward stylist who strays far from Cuban music while remaining so deeply rooted in Cuba's musical tradition, presents an impressive trio album with two congenial collaborators Brad Jones and John Betsch. Cuban influences from toques, rumba and Afro-Haitian music blend with European art music and modern jazz."-Intakt

"Serranías is a special album for a double anniversary: the 20th anniversary of the recording debut as a leader in the United States and the 50th birthday milestone of Aruán Ortiz, a pianist-composer from Santiago de Cuba who has become an undisputed protagonist of the New York avant-garde jazz scene thanks to the original processes of abstract Cuban creative crossfertilization that he composes with unusual Afro-Cuban/Haitian accents."-Gian Franco Grilli, from the liner notes.

"Pianist Aruán Ortiz hails from Santiago de Cuba, but he has resided in the United States for two decades. Musically he is a first cousin to pianist Matthew Shipp with his approachable and often intense and avant-garde keyboard style; and he seems a stylistic grandson to Thelonious Monk with his joyful angularities and off-kilter interludes. But he is the son of Cuba, his music mixing in a cubist way the island nation's toques, rumbas, son and conga, tinted at times with Afro-Haitian undercurrents and European classical shadings. And speaking of musical family, Dizzy Gillespie is in there too-a great uncle perhaps-as the trio opens with a fractured and nicely haphazard reconstruction of "Shaw 'Nuff" to introduce Serranias: Sketchbook For Piano Trio, a celebration of sorts of Ortiz' 50th birthday and his 20-year residency in the U.S.

Joined by bassist Brad Jones and drummer John Betsch here, the pianistic Picasso paints with an array of colors that runs from dark blues to light greys, stirring up turbulence and ominous atmospheres. Shadows fall everywhere, shafts of light beaming through, with a fragmented, sometimes fractious trio dynamic that suits the music, sharpening the Ortiz edginess.

Serranias: Sketchbook for Piano Trio, is Ortiz' sixth outing for Intakt Records. He is thriving there. This is his most adventurous recording. The word "sketchbook" in the title says, we can guess, something about the looseness, the level of wide-open improvisation involved, the devil-may-care, let-us-go-for-it trio approach."-Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

Get additional information at All About Jazz

Artist Biographies

"Cuban-born, Brooklyn-based pianist, violist, and composer Aruán Ortiz has written music for jazz ensembles, orchestras, dance companies, chamber groups, and feature films. His work incorporates influences from contemporary classical music, Cuban-Haitian rhythms, and avant-garde improvisation; and consistently strives to break stylistic musical boundaries. He has been called "the latest Cuban wunderkind to arrive in the United States" by BET Jazz and "one of the most versatile and exciting pianists of his generation" by Downbeat Magazine.

He has received numerous accolades such as the Doris Duke Impact Award (2014); Composers Now Creative Residency Award at Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (2014); the Jerome Foundation Travel & Study Grant (2013); Latin Jazz Corner's Arranger of the Year (2011) for his contribution on the album, "El Cumbanchero" by flutist Mark Weinstein (Jazzheads, 2011); Fundación Autor, SGAE, and Generalitat de Catalunya Grant study grants (2002); Semifinalist, Jas Hennessy Piano Solo Competition, Montreux, Switzerland (2001); and Best Jazz Interpretation, Festival de Jazz in Vic, Spain (2000)."

-Aruan Ortiz Website (

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"New York born Brad Christopher Jones is a bassist, composer, and educator. He has recorded, performed, and toured around the world with a diverse array of artists that include Ornette Coleman, Elvis Costello, Elvin Jones, David Byrne, Muhal Richard Abrams, Sheryl Crow, Deborah Harry, Dave Douglas, Vernon Reid, John Zorn, Don Byron, Marc Ribot, and The Jazz Passengers.

Brad has released three recordings under his own leadership with two seperate projects:"UNCIVILIZED POISE" and "THE EMBODIMENT" with his band Aka Alias, and"POURING MY HEART IN" with the Brad Jones Quartet.

Brad is also an experienced educator who has taught workshops and master classes in France, Italy, Canada, and Mexico and is part of the music faculty at Columbia University in New York City."

-Brad Jones Website (

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"John Betsch (born October 8, 1945 in Jacksonville, Florida) is an American jazz drummer. Betsch was born in Jacksonville, Florida. His mother was a church organist and pianist, and his older sister Marvyne a soprano singer. He began playing drums in the school orchestra at the age of nine. He attended Fisk University, and while still a student there, at the age of 18, he began playing professionally with pianists Bob Holmes, Ernest Vantrease, and trumpeter Louis Smith. Betsch studied at Berklee College of Music and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst under Max Roach and Archie Shepp. After playing in organ trios, he released an album as a leader, Earth Blossom, in 1975. That year he moved to New York City, where he played with Marion Brown, Paul Jeffrey, Max Roach, Jeanne Lee and Henry Threadgill.

Between 1977 and 1979 Betsch joined Abdullah Ibrahim's ensemble, and from 1980 to 1982 he was with Archie Shepp's band that featured Hilton Ruiz, piano, Santi Debriano, bass and Roger Dawson, congas and percussion. In 1983 he recorded with Roger Dawson's septet featuring Hilton Ruiz, reedman John Purcell, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, bassist Anthony Cox and multi-percussionist Milton Cardona. Following this he was a member of quartets led by Marty Cook.

Since 1985 Betsch has lived in Europe, playing with Jim Pepper and Mal Waldron as well as in a band with his wife, French pianist Claudine François. In the 1990s he played in a group with Steve Lacy, and with Özay Fecht and in a trio with Elvira Plenar and Peter Kowald. He has done other recordings with Thomas Chapin, Marilyn Crispell, Klaus König, Billy Bang, Sathima Bea Benjamin, Uli Lenz and Simon Nabatov."

-Wikipedia (

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Track Listing:

1. Shaw 'Nuff (Siento un bombo) 09:58

2. En forma de Guajira 06:18

3. Memorias del monte 05:10

4. Los tres golpes 08:27

5. Canto de tambores y caracoles (Solo) 04:30

6. Huellas... (Interlude I) 01:34

7. Serranias 05:26

8. Black Like a Thunder Stone (one) 04:18

9. Like a Changui (Montuno) 06:02

10. ... and Shadows (Interlude II) 01:59

11. Lullaby for the End Times 05:27

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Trio Recordings
Piano Trio (Piano Bass Drums)
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New in Improvised Music
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