Jazz Review (for "Mum is the Word"-Chris Cortez)

Review: More often than not, when a musician tries to explore many different elements on a single disc – jazz, blues, vocals, instrumentals, varying personnel, etc. – the result is an album that is uneven and lacking any real cohesiveness. However, on “Mum Is The Word,” guitarist Chris Cortez attempts to do exactly that and succeeds, in spades, on every level. ..

Speaking of the band, they are a group of outstanding individual musicians that have mastered the art of playing as a unit. Joining Cortez (who plays all acoustic guitar on this album) are Sam Brutonon piano, Larry Panella on tenor sax, alto sax, and flute, Humphrey Davis Jr. on tenor sax and vocals, John Brinson on organ, John Reid on fluegel horn, Billy Bargetzi on trombone, Edwin Livingston and James Singleton on bass, John Wooton on percussion and Jeff Mills on drums. You can tell that Cortez has great confidence in this band, and he generously gives them plenty of room to shine, which they each do by way of dazzling solos.

Jazz Improv Interview with Chris Cortez 4/9/04
JI - Could you discuss the creation of your CD Groovopolis? How did you develop the title? What kind of preparation did you engage in for the sessions?

CC - Jeff Mills (drums) and I were experimenting in my studio with all sorts of things, and suddenly the opening track "Go Home" was just one of many things in production. I've always thought it would make a nice guitar oriented pop instrumental. Anyway, that track seemed to be the catalyst for the whole project...

Jeff Mills and Dean Fransen have worked tirelessly to help me achieve my vision. I think Jeff is an incredible drummer. His expertise and versatility never cease to amaze me.

ejazznews.com John R. Taylor
Most people who really care about music need something challenging on occasion, something that either pushes or pulls them in new musical directions. But sometimes it’s quite sufficient simply to enjoy, to kick back and revel in the simple pleasures of melody and harmony and obvious good cheer.

Chris Cortez isn’t out to expand any musical horizons with “Hold It Right There,” his fourth outing as a leader. ...

Special mention goes to Jeff Mills, a jazz drummer through and through, for particularly intelligent support throughout.

"Your work throughout "Hold It Right There" was truly exemplary. As a rule I'm not fond of 'busy' drummers - as a blues fan for more years than I'd care to think about I've become increasingly convinced that simple and uncluttered is invariably best. But somehow you managed to add a great deal to the songs while never becoming obtrusive, and I quite sincerely took that to be a reflection of an exceptional musical intelligence. Myprofound compliments on truly superb work - your contributions were integral to the success of the disc." John Taylor (email correspondence)

Slip into Chris Cortez's new album, HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, and feel pleasure like putting on your favorite coat, warm and comfortable, for a stroll down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. This versatile guitarist and vocalist has created stunning arrangements of a baker's dozen jazz and blues standards.

This is toe-tapping, finger-snapping, goodtime music the whole family can enjoy. Cortez sings ten of the tunes on HOLD IT RIGHT THERE on the Blue Bamboo Music label...

Cortez's regular rhythm section is drummer Jeff Mills (master of both sticks and brushes)...

©2014 Jeff Mills